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April 2019

STEM Ambassador Program Awarded Further Funding from National Science Foundation

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STEM Ambassador ProgramThe STEM Ambassador Program has received a new round of funding from NSF, extending the program until at least 2021.

The scientific enterprise needs transformative ways for scientists to interact synergistically with society, particularly with people who do not or cannot engage with science in informal education (ISE) venues (e.g., museums, science centers) due to variations in mobility, educational background, language, health, financial status, and other factors. Although these audiences are considered “hard-to-reach,” they can contribute to science and to a more informed citizenry.

In 2016-2018, with AISL support, the project carried out exploratory research to innovate the STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP), which integrated three proven ISE approaches to train cohorts of scientists to meaningfully engage public audiences in venues where they naturally congregate (e.g., correctional institutions, cooking classes, senior centers). Other institutions have expressed strong interest in replicating STEMAP, but additional research is needed to make STEMAP (and other ISE programs) scalable and sustainable.

Project outcomes will include 70 trained scientists, five Mentors, two Site Leaders, two Site Facilitators, at least 70 engagement events, an Evaluation Toolkit, a “Broadening Participation in STEMAP” guide, documentation of engagement outcomes, a web-based repository of training materials and engagement resources, and a Dissemination Framework to inform actions to scale and sustain STEMAP and other engagement training programs.

This project, entitled “The STEM Ambassador Program: Supporting Scientists’ Engagement with Public Audiences,” is under the direction of Nalini Nadkarni, John C. Besley, Krista Carlson, Julie M. Risien, Dennis L. Schatz.

INSPIRE Paper Published in Science Communication

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Baseline Attitudes and Impacts of Informal Science Education Lectures on Content Knowledge and Value of Science Among Incarcerated Populations

Nalini M. Nadkarni and Jeremy S. Morris

Many public audiences lack access to traditional science education. We examined baseline perceptions and the impacts of science lectures on incarcerated adults in two correctional institutions. Although incarcerated populations are often characterized as having poor educational backgrounds, being disinterested in learning, and having few tools to seek science education, our incarcerated audiences were interested in, capable of, and desirous of science education. We found positive baseline attitudes about science and a significant positive effect of science lectures on content knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions related to science, suggesting that informal science lectures may be an appropriate portal to science education for this population.

Read the rest of the paper here: Baseline Attitudes INSPIRE

INSPIRE lecture