The Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) is a resource center funded through a cooperative agreement with the NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program. The current period of funding builds on the work of CAISE since it began in 2007 to provide support to professional audiences in informal STEM learning (ISL) including professionals working in science centers and museums, zoos and aquariums, parks and botanical gardens, nature centers, events and festivals, libraries, making and tinkering spaces, media, digital learning environments, youth and out-of-school time programs, and community programs. Specifically, CAISE characterizes, highlights, and helps connect audiences to evidence-based informal STEM learning work through curated resources (e.g., project descriptions, research literature, access to evaluation reports, blogs) on the InformalScience.org website. CAISE also serves a role in convening inquiry groups, workshops, and meetings, including the bi-annual AISL principal investigator meetings.
The Center's Dr. Martin Storksdieck will work in collaboration with partners from CAISE, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington to implement a five-year project with goals which include advancing and better integrating the fields of informal STEM Learning and Science Communication by specifically: broadening participation in both fields; deepening links between research and practices; and building capacity in evaluation and measurement. Dr. Storksdieck’s work on this project is supported at the STEM Research Center by Dr. Julie Risien, Dr. Kelly Riedinger, Dr. Heather Fischer, and Kelly Hoke.
The Center will also investigate the connections between people and ideas between the informal science education and science communication communities. This study has resulted in a report summarizing and interpreting survey results, which can be found on the CAISE website and broad access to interactive visualizations that show the connections between the two distinct, but overlapping professional communities. https://khoke.kumu.io/visualizing-connections-and-influences-across-the-ise-and-scicomm-communities
Drs. Storksdieck and Riedinger also served as members of the Evaluation and Measurement Task Force (EMTF) which was charged with investigating common constructs between ISE and science communication. A product of the EMTF was an interview series that explores how professionals across both fields define, explore, and measure the constructs of identity, interest and engagement. The interview series and associated resources can be accessed at: https://www.informalscience.org/em-task-force.