Science Learning Outside the Classroom
April 6, 2011
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.
- IT Infrastructure Science Shared on Online CommunitiesWith the availability of user-friendly home cameras and desktop publishing, thousands are posting videos and websites dedicated to science.Student Well-Being Researchers Play Catch-Up in Gauging Beyond-School EffectsWhat's measured about science learning in the classroom differs from what's measured outside the classroom.Student Well-Being Games and Simulations Help Children Access ScienceWith all the time today's youths spend on computers and mobile devices, technology can serve as a familiar vehicle for learning.Curriculum Science Competitions Integrated Into CurriculumTaking part in contests both inside and outside school enables young people to delve deeper into the subject and witness its application.Student Well-Being Environmental Issues Inspire Children to Dig Into ScienceInformal science programs that focus on the environment hook young people because they are about issues that really matter to their lives.Student Well-Being Role of Science Learning Outside of School GrowsLearning opportunities are plentiful, from after-school programs to computer simulations to zoo visits.Student Well-Being National Science Foundation Deemed Leader in Informal LearningThe federal agency provides some $65 million annually to support after-school programs, traveling exhibits, film production and community projects, and cyber-enabled learning.Early Childhood Independent Play Fosters Discovery in YoungstersWhen it comes to science, much of what very young children learn comes through informal means.Science Science-Rich Institutions Provide Venues for ExplorationScience centers, museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums help the public gain better understanding of science.