Arts and Sciences, College of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Research in Science Education (2024).

doi: 10.1007/s11165-024-10173-6


Open Access

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Building on previous research that demonstrates the association of youth experiences in afterschool science and higher science identities, this paper presents a network study of 421 middle school students that examines afterschool science participation, friendship ties, and science identities. Participation in afterschool science clubs is associated with higher science identity, but the mechanisms and order of causality are unclear. Youth form friendships inside and outside of school, and peers may influence participation in afterschool activities, as empirical research on friendships shows that they are associated with youth interests. These peer interactions also have the potential to shape identity development during adolescence. In this study, we explore associations among youth participation in afterschool science clubs, peer friendship groups, and science identity. We find that youth who participate in afterschool science clubs have higher science identities than those who do not participate. Additionally, having friends in afterschool science clubs is associated with higher science identity, even among students who report not participating in clubs themselves. Results suggest that afterschool science clubs support youth science identities, even beyond those who directly participate.