In this study led by Drs. Kelly Riedinger and Martin Storksdieck with assistance from Kim Preston and Victoria Bonebrake, the STEM Research Center is a research and evaluation partner with Little Yud Ventures and the PAST Foundation on the Explorer at Large (XAL) pilot program in Ohio. Through freely distributed videos and associated instructional materials (study and teacher guides), hands-on in-class and outdoor activities, field trips to relevant local settings, and parent-student engagements, XAL aims to enable students across three cities in Ohio to experience and practice scientific thinking skills that prepare them for advanced education and career success within a pedagogical approach that taps into children’s natural curiosity and playfulness. A holistic ecosystem of curriculum-driven content invites students on journeys in the field and the lab, together with experts in pursuit of knowledge and discovery, and provide corresponding resources and support for teachers and other educators. Explorer At Large’s goal is to engage students with elements of authenticity, real-world exploration, and live-action adventure and to deliver meaningful science content while preparing them for future learning and success in life.
The Center, with funding from the Bezos Family Foundation and the Scott Foundation for Public Education to implement a research and evaluation study as a proof-of-concept exercise to demonstrate that the materials can be implemented by teachers successfully and in a way that leads to outcomes for students. The first pilot targeted approximately 800-900 students from across 8 schools in the Central Ohio (Columbus) region. The study included approximately 35-40 classrooms total, including K, 3rd, & 5th grade. You can read the Year 1 Report here. In the current project funded by the School Foundation, the project was expanded to new schools across Ohio, reaching teachers and students in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The current study will continue through the 2019-2020 academic year.