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Community -based science education for fourth to sixth graders: Influences of a female role model

Deanna S Acklie, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Women in the United States are underrepresented in science related careers. The Wonderwise curriculum was designed to encourage young women to become more involved in science and science careers. The Wonderwise kits have won numerous awards for quality science curriculum for formal educational environments. In 2000 the kits were adapted and new kits were developed to meet the needs of a nonformal Teaming environment (i.e., 4-H). The kits contain a video field trip with a featured female scientist demonstrating her work, an activity guidebook with five activities based on this scientist's work, and a CD-Rom serving as an additional resource. ^ This study contributes to our understanding of a group of 4H youth who used the Wonderwise curriculum. It describes their view on science, their perspective about people who do science, the importance of role models within their lives, and their career visions. ^ This study was a multi-method case study design. The subjects were youth ages 9–11 involved in 4H events in a three state area. Events such as overnight camps, day camps, special events and after school programs featuring the Wonderwise curriculum were used as sites for this study. The subjects studied in the Wonderwise 4-H project were primarily female youth who had some interest in science. Nearly half were Caucasian; the remainder were Hispanic, African American and Native American. The 25 youth involved in this study took part in a semi-structure interview process including four research methodologies: open-ended questions, drawing or writing a story about the featured scientist, a card sort activity and a relationship map drawn by the youth. ^ Youths' prior experiences in formal, informal and nonformal settings impacted how they made sense of and incorporated Wonderwise experiences in their frame of reference. Through the experiential learning process youth experienced science activities and connected to individuals with science backgrounds, particularly those individuals within their relationship network such family members, and teachers who “do” science. Girls within this study related to and identified with the female role models presented in the Wonderwise 4-H curriculum. Native American youth related to a Native American scientist based on a similarity in culture. ^

Subject Area

Education, Elementary|Education, Sciences

Recommended Citation

Acklie, Deanna S, "Community -based science education for fourth to sixth graders: Influences of a female role model" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3104602.