Science Club partnerships in the spotlight: published in STEM education journal

March 15, 2016

Science in Society has been published in a new journal dedicated to high-quality STEM education. Connected Science Learning is a joint initiative of the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). The journal profiles programs which bridge in-school and out-of-school settings, particularly focusing on effective mechanisms for collaboration.

The award-winning Science Club program is featured in the inaugural issue, published March 2016. The article highlights the program’s unique, long-term mentorship model for underserved middle school youth including:

  • scientific inquiry and skills;
  • cohesive, investigative learning;
  • fostering youth science identity;
  • developing authentic science skills assessment in an informal learning environment;
  • and building a science community comprised of scientist-mentors and underprivileged urban youth.

For the first time, qualitative and quantitative data from the project’s first five years have been published. Key science outcomes for participants include:

  • Youth participation is equivalent in magnitude to raising a student one full aptitude level (e.g. from low to middle or middle to high) among their peers.
  • Science Club participation results in long-term science skills gain across all aptitudes and grade levels.
  • All participants associate science with their daily lives and believe science is important to their future career choice (as well as inspiring future scientists, aspiring basketball players cited optimizing ball arc to maximize the probability of making a basket, for example).

In addition, the Science Club summative report by external evaluators the Garibay Group highlights long-term science interest and career outcomes for involved students and mentors. The report found:

  • Science Club alumni, now in high school and college, are choosing STEM careers at a significantly higher rate than their peers. As a result, there is an unprecedented increase in the number of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago alumni entering these fields.
  • More than 80% of Science Club mentors report the experience taught them skills such as teaching, mentoring and science communication.
  • Two-thirds of Science Club mentors, primarily graduate students at Northwestern University, say the experience has influenced their career direction. 

The journal article was authored by the Michael Kennedy and Rebecca Daugherty, Director and Assistant Director respectively of Science in Society, Northwestern University’s research center dedicated to science education and public engagement. Co-authors on the article included Science Club’s external evaluators and partner teachers from Chicago Public Schools who have been integral to the design and implementation of the program.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

Science Club runs during the school year at two sites in Chicago supporting 100 middle schoolers through year-long, mentor-led science learning. The strong collaborative partnership between Northwestern scientists, Chicago Public School teachers, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago youth development professionals has been crucial to the development and success of the program. The program expansion in early 2016 included building relationships with and welcoming scientist-mentors from partner institutions including University of Chicago, Loyola University, and University of Illinois-Chicago. Conversations are currently underway to expand the program to further locations. More information, including free downloads of sample curricula, can be found in the Science in Society and Science Club websites. 

The full journal article is now available on Connected Science Learning, and subscriptions are currently free for registered email recipients. The next issue will be published in fall 2016, focusing on professional development opportunities to enhance collaborating partnerships. Submissions from STEM education professionals are being accepted through June 30, 2016.

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