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New resources for STEM in afterschool from the Research + Practice Collaboratory

By Leah Silverberg

Check it out: the Research + Practice Collaboratory has some new and updated resources for the afterschool field! If you are not familiar, the Research + Practice Collaboratory works to bridge the gap between education research and STEM education implementation. The Collaboratory’s goal is to increase communication and partnerships between educators and researchers to promote the co-development research-based tools that are grounded in practice.

Case study teaches research and collaboration through tinkering

In a recent blog post, Jean Ryoo from the Exploratorium talks about her partnership with in-school and out-of-school time practitioners to create a conference presentation for school administrators and in-school and afterschool educators. The presentation was intended as an opportunity for afterschool professionals to share ideas with the larger education community and showcase collaboration across institutions, research, and teaching.

The team designed an interactive tinkering session as a professional development activity in which participants would have the opportunity to act as learners and as observers simultaneously. Participants were instructed to build scribble machines while also taking notes on their colleagues’ involvement and reactions to the materials, effectively developing and strengthening their own skills as researchers.

The experience that Ryoo highlights in her account shows the value of collaboration between all parts of the education ecosystem.

“I felt lucky to be collaborating with such passionate educators at Lighthouse and impressed by the agility and speed with which a session like ours could be conceived, organized, and executed despite the busy schedules of our partners,” Ryoo wrote.

Science Education's focus on equity, partnerships, and informal education

The latest issue of Science Education has a 4-article section focused on equity, partnerships, and informal education. The publication features an introduction written by Collaboratory PI Bronwyn Bevan and an article on research-practice partnerships by co-PI William Penuel.

Far from simply applying research to practice as a means to build equity or reducing partnerships to opportunities for practitioners to take up the ideas of researchers, the article focuses on collaboration and mutual learning between researchers and practitioners as the way to foster inclusion in science, mathematics, technology, and education (STEM) learning.

“Partnerships are crucibles for reimagining how research and practice might relate in ways that promote the agency of educators and learners,” Penuel writes, “and they present opportunities for collective efforts to challenge historically shared inequities that many engaged in everyday science seek to address.”

Of the journal articles, Social justice and out-of-school science learning: Exploring equity in science television, science clubs and maker spaces is available for free via open access.

Revamped website dedicated to research briefs

The Relating Research to Practice website has been relaunched with a new design. The website contains more than 300 free-to-download research briefs that summarize STEM-related education research in informal and formal settings. The website is easily searchable by themes, from Educational Equity and Inclusion to Teaching and Learning in Informal Settings.