Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hebets, EA, PW Hill, A Matthews, K Phillips, S Weller, C Whitney, TB Corey. 2020. Using a college curriculum to integrate informal science learning opportunities for university and middle school students. Journal of STEM Outreach 3(2) https://doi.org/10.15695/jstem/v3i2.07


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We used community partnerships to develop an integrated science-learning program focused on two groups of learners – university and middle school (MS) students – to increase students’ interest and confidence in science as well as motivation to pursue science. Key program elements include a university course for undergraduate and graduate students, university student-led weekly afterschool clubs held at local middle schools (mostly Title I), and a capstone museum science festival led by university and MS students. Across nine course offerings, 78 university students conducted 25 clubs at seven middle schools and engaged at least 240 MS students. The capstone science festival engaged ~1,200 public participants across six events. We evaluated the program in two phases. Quantitative and qualitative assessments show that university students enjoyed the course and increased their ability to describe complex scientific phenomenon to youth. Middle school students reported significant increases in science interest, science understanding, and understanding scientists (1st evaluation phase); and increased interest in a career in science and in their perception of others seeing them as a scientist (2nd phase). Consistent with prior research, overall we found an increase in interest and understanding of science, science identity, and interest in future science careers for MS students.

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