A Special Report on Informal Science Education

As concern mounts that U.S. students lack sufficient understanding of science and related fields, it has become increasingly clear that schools can’t tackle the challenge alone. This special report explores the field often called “informal science education,” which is gaining broader recognition for its role in helping young people acquire scientific knowledge and skills. Opportunities abound outside the classroom to learn about science, and to inspire a passion for it. Zoos and science museums, robotics clubs, science competitions, and online games are just a few of the options to engage American youths. Education Week reporters examine what informal science education looks like in practice, and what we know about its impact, its potential, and the challenges it faces.


Download the free interactive PDF version of the report, Science Learning Outside the Classroom.

Learning opportunities are plentiful, from after-school programs to computer simulations to zoo visits.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

What's measured about science learning in the classroom differs from what's measured outside the classroom.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

Science centers, museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums help the public gain better understanding of science.
April 6, 2011 | Updated: February 21, 2019 – Education Week

Taking part in contests both inside and outside school enables young people to delve deeper into the subject and witness its application.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

With all the time today's youths spend on computers and mobile devices, technology can serve as a familiar vehicle for learning.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

When it comes to science, much of what very young children learn comes through informal means.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

The federal agency provides some $65 million annually to support after-school programs, traveling exhibits, film production and community projects, and cyber-enabled learning.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

Informal science programs that focus on the environment hook young people because they are about issues that really matter to their lives.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

With the availability of user-friendly home cameras and desktop publishing, thousands are posting videos and websites dedicated to science.
April 6, 2011 – Education Week

Upcoming Webinar


April 19, 2011 @ 2 p.m. EDT:
Learning Science Outside the Classroom

Experts say that informal science learning is gaining wider recognition and becoming part of the national dialogue on how to advance public understanding of science. Two experts join Education Week to discuss the evolving field—what we know about its impact, what it looks like in practice, the potential, and the challenges.

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