Amplifying Informal Science Learning : Rethinking Research, Design, and Engagement book cover
1st Edition

Amplifying Informal Science Learning
Rethinking Research, Design, and Engagement

  • Available for pre-order on May 26, 2023. Item will ship after June 16, 2023
ISBN 9780367702755
June 16, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
392 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This collection explores the broad landscape of current and future out-of-school science learning environments. Written by leading experts and innovators in informal science learning, these thoughtful and critical essays examine the changing nature of informal institutions such as science museums, zoos, nature centers, planetariums, aquaria, and botanical gardens and their impact on science education. The book examines the learning opportunities and challenges created by community-based experiences including citizen science, makerspaces, science media, escape rooms, hobby groups, and gaming. 

Based on current practices, case studies, and research, the book focuses on four cross-cutting themes—inclusivity, digital engagement, community partnerships, and bridging formal and informal learning—to examine the transformation in how people learn science informally.

The book will be of interest to science and technology educators – both in and out of school – designers of science and experiential education programs, and those interested in building STEM learning ecosystems in their communities.

Table of Contents

PART 1: Exhibits and Informal Science Learning  1. Transforming Learning Landscapes: A Radical Model for Informal Science Learning   2. What About AIDS? The Case of the National AIDS Exhibit Consortium and its Traveling Exhibition  3. Designing for Diversity  4. Origin of Interactive Science Centres and the Status of Science Centres in the Middle East  5. Helping Young Children Make Conceptual Connections in a Science Museum  6. How Planetariums Offer Diverse Opportunities to Engage a Broad Audience in STEM  7. Now it’s Africa’s Turn: The Status and Potential of Science Centers and Informal Science Education Initiatives on the ‘Bright Continent’  8. Teachers as Designers: Learning by Exhibit Prototyping  PART 2: Engaged with Earth Stewardship  9. Salmon Camp: The Design of an Immersive Science Education Program for Native American Youth  10. Cultivating Sustainability: Youth Food Systems & STEM Learning  11. Wild Hearts: Exploring the Connection between STEM Learning and Conservation Psychology in Zoos and Aquariums  12. Out-of-School Science Education Institutions for Sustainability  13. Informal Learning through Citizen Science: Authentic, Meaningful, Impactful  14. From School-based Citizen Science to Transition-driven Activism with the Community  15. Where You Stand and Why You Stand There: Cultural Competency as a Lens for Understanding Climate Change in the Minds of Rural Pennsylvania Fairgoers  PART 3: Places and Spaces for Informal Science Learning  16. Libraries are for Science  17. Night Skies and Butterflies: Leisure Science Activities and STEM Interests  18. Chemical Escape Rooms: Bridging the Gap between Formal and Informal Science Learning  19. STEM Applied Learning Programme: Infusing Formal with the Informal  20. Equitable Access to Making through Public Libraries  21. The Street Code Project: Computational Literacy and the Performing Arts  22. Bridging Informal Science Learning with Schools: The Open Schooling Model  23. Benefits of Engineering Beyond the School Day: Insights from Research  24. Digitally-Mediated Learning Modalities for Computational Thinking: Promises and Challenges for Informal STEAM Learning  25. Outdoor and Outreach: Informal Science Learning Outside the Four Walls of Science Centres  PART 4: Rethinking Informal Science Learning  26. Creating Awareness of the Challenges of Cross-Cultural Communication in Informal Science Settings Through an Indigenous Lens  27. On-Ramps to Where?  28. Fostering Youth STEM Identities Through Social Network Connections in Informal Science Settings  29. Speculative Design for STEM learning  30. Limiting Claims about Museums, STEM, and Social Issues  31. The Virtuous Cycle of Affect, Engagement, and Learning  32. Data Narratives for Action: Innovative Approaches to Data Collection and Reporting to Tell the Story of Informal Science Learning  33. Should Science Centres Evict STEM? The 1960s Dream for Peace, Beauty, and Awe versus Cold War Pragmatism and Problem-solving  34. Reflections on 50 Years in the Science Center Profession

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Judy Diamond is Professor of Libraries and Curator at the University of Nebraska State Museum, and a leader in the field of informal science education. She is lead author of the books Practical Evaluation Guide: Tools for Museums and Other Informal Educational Institutions (2016) and World of Viruses (2012), and co-author of several popular science books, including Parasites: The Inside Story (2022), Thinking Like a Parrot: Perspectives from the Wild (2019), Concealing Coloration in Animals (2013), and Kea: Bird of Paradox (1999).


Sherman Rosenfeld has worked as a science educator at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel, since 1982. His research interests include bridging the gap between formal and informal science learning, teacher professional development, and Project-Based Learning (PBL). He directed a science museum in California, led informal science education programs for youth in Israel’s institutions of higher learning, spearheaded the introduction of Project-Based Learning in Israel, and participated in multi-national projects funded by the European Union.