In partnership with the California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC), an established statewide after-school leader-training network, this project makes use of new curricular modules and existing STEM resources found in the Exploratorium digital library and the NSDL to create and offer professional development institutes for use by state and regional after school organizations. Professional development institutes consist of four linked components: (1) workshops and seminars, (2) technical assistance, (3) a collegial community of practitioners, and (4) curricular modules that combine NSDL digital resources and tools with inquiry-based, hands-on science activities for after school audiences. Unlike many after school activities, the curricular modules are designed to be academically challenging, science-rich, and youth interest-driven. In addition to workshops for after school leaders and their teaching staff, the project documents the words used by youth and after school educators to search and access the Exploratorium digital library, mapping these to scientific vocabularies as metadata to help make NSDL more usable to educators and the underrepresented youth they serve.
This project is making important practical and pedagogical impact. It provides an example of a museum-after school partnership that expands the use of NSDL - a content provider (the Exploratorium) working with an established statewide training network (CalSAC) to create a program of STEM professional development combining the rich resources of the NSDL and technical assistance for leaders of after school programs and their program staff. In addition, the project is building the scientific literacy of the after school educators and the youth they serve using the rich repository of learning resources in the NSDL, thereby addressing a key underserved audience.
Co-funding for this project is being provided by the office of Multidisciplinary Activities in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) in recognition of the value that museum-after school partnerships have in promoting the integration of research and education in areas of interest to MPS.