DIP: ScienceKit for ScienceEverywhere – A Seamless Scientizing Ecosystem for Raising Scientifically-Minded Children

PIs: Tamara Clegg, June Ahn, Jason Yip
University of Maryland College Park
Award Details

Although for years researchers have believed technology could afford anytime-anywhere learning, we still don’t understand how learners behave differently across contexts, such as home, school, and in the community, and how to get youth to identify as learners across those contexts. This proposal aims to use mobile devices and strategically placed shared kiosks to ‘scientize’ youth in two low-income communities. Through strategic partnerships with community organizations, educators, and families, the innovation is to get primary and middle-school students engaging in scientific inquiry in the context of their neighborhoods. Research will help determine how the technology can best be deployed, but also answer important questions about how communities can provide support to help kids think like scientists and identify with science.

This project will design and implement ubiquitous technology tools that include mobile social media and tangible, community displays (collectively called ScienceKit) that are deeply embedded into two urban neighborhoods, and demonstrate how such ubiquitous technologies and related cyberlearning strategies are vital to improve information flow and coordination across a neighborhood ecosystem, in order to create environments where children can connect their science learning across contexts and time (e.g. scientizing). A program called ScienceEverywhere comprised of partnerships between tightly connected neighborhood organizations with mentors, teachers, parents, and researchers will help learners develop scientifically literate practices both in and out of school, and will demonstrate students’ learning to their communities. Research will consist of mixed methods studies of use of the tools, including iterative design-based research, ethnography, and the use of participant observers from the community; these will be triangulated with usage logs of the technologies and content analysis of microblogs by the learners on their identities and interests. Discourse analysis of interviews with focal learners will orient the qualitative work on identity development, and analysis using activity theory will inform the influences of the social practices and sociotechnical systems on learner trajectories. Formative evaluation will help shed light on if and how the sociotechnical system promotes STEM literacy and STEM identity development.

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