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As the university's central hub for interdisciplinary education research, the Center is involved in several long- and short-term projects. Read about our local, national, and international involvements below.

The Circuit: A Platform for Increasing Access to, Deepening and Researching Patterns of Family and Adult Participation in Informal Science

2019 - 2023

Funded by the National Science Foundation and led by director Dr. Martin Storksdieck, Center researchers Dr. Heather Fischer and Kimberley Preston are collaborating with several partners to research and develop, a mobile phone and web-based application designed to empower families and the general public to discover the full spectrum of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) informal learning opportunities available in most communities. Currently, there are no “one-stop” search platforms for these resources. This groundbreaking resource would allow users to efficiently search a rich informal STEM database enabling them to identify resources by location, geography, age levels, science discipline, type of program, and more. This will be accomplished through the aggregation and organization of digital content from trusted informal STEM networks of content providers. The development of this app will also provide researchers with new opportunities to analyze how families and adults engage with informal STEM resources in their communities.

Examining the Role of Authenticity in Informal Science Learning

2019 - 2023

The STEM Research Center and Dr. Shawn Rowe from Oregon Sea Grant are partnering with Dr. James Kisiel at California State University Long Beach (as the project lead) and Jill Stein from Reimagine Research Group to conduct a critical research synthesis on the significance of authenticity or realness for learning in informal science education settings. The Examining the Role of Authenticity in Informal Science Learning project seeks to better understand how different disciplines (e.g. learning sciences, media studies, museology, linguistics, anthropology, etc.) address authenticity and to compile existing evidence of why “the real” thing or experience may (or may not) be important for supporting informal science learning.

Revealing Progress toward Promotion and Tenure Reform in the Academy

2018 - 2020

The Revealing Progress toward Promotion and Tenure Reform in the Academy project assumes that the current academic system of reward and professional advancement: a) does not live up to current university values and fails to support improvements in teaching, engagement, innovation, inclusivity, convergence research and team science; and b) can be improved and is already being improved through disruptive actions by champions of change.

On-the-Spot Assessment to Improve Scientist Engagement with the Public (OTS)

2018 - 2023

The collaborative On-the-Spot Assessment to Improve Scientist Engagement with the Public (OTS) project has developed an overall strategy and suite of tactics for STEM professionals to use during public engagement with science outreach events. The project builds on the theory of change that if scientists have training and access to the right resources then they will gain confidence and an understanding of how to flexibly engage with their audience. This two-phase study began by working with scientists to create effective strategies for audience feedback that were then field-tested across a variety of activity types, leading the project toward a validated OTS model for scientists.

Gulf of Maine Research Institute LabVenture

2018 - 2023

The research team from the STEM Research Center at Oregon State University is partnering with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and TERC on a research in service to practice project funded by NSF’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program. The project is examining the impact of a longstanding, statewide science field trip program called LabVenture.

GLOBE: Citizen Science Needs Assessment

2016 - 2018

OSU’s STEM Research Center conducted the GLOBE: Citizen Science Needs Assessment that will inform the expansion of the NASA GLOBE program to citizen scientists outside the K-12 arena. The findings from this needs assessment informed the on going work of the NESEC project evaluation (to the NESEC project).

NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative (NESEC)

2018 - 2025

Dr. Heather A. Fischer is leading the Center team for the NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative (NESEC) evaluation, with support from Dr. Martin Storksdieck, Dr. Matt Nyman, Dr. Nancy Staus and Holly Cho. The purpose of this evaluation is to (1) Provide strategic guidance to the NESEC team on project focus and productive connection to external partners. (2) Provide support for product and program development based on conceptual and empirical evidence. (3) Provide evidence for project reach and impact, focused on goals and metrics that align with key goals that are guiding the overall NASA SMD Science Activation program.


2018 - 2023

The ARIS Center is a collaboration between 12 universities launched in September 2018 with an award from the National Science Foundation (OIA 1810732) and a mission to Advance Research Impacts in Society through four initiatives: building capacity; advancing scholarship; growing partnerships; and curating resources. Dr. Julie Risien leads the OSU arm of ARIS and oversees the advancing scholarship initiative of the ARIS Center.

AR Girls: Augmented-Reality Targeting Science

2018 - 2020

The STEM Research Center partnered with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, Maine Math and Science Alliance, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and the University of Wisconsin Institute for Discovery on AR Girls: Augmented-Reality Targeting Science. This three-year NSF-funded Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) project engaged middle school-aged girls in rural Maine in using technology as a science communication tool.

Research and Development on Understanding STEM Identity Using Live Experiences

2017 - 2023

The goal of the Research and Development on Understanding STEM Identity Using Live Experiences project is to explore how audiences with little or no affinity for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can become more engaged with STEM ideas through live, immersive experiences. For the project, center staff and partners collected data at the Oregon Eclipse Festival in central Oregon in 2017 and the Figment Festival at Governor’s Island, NY in 2018. We also evaluated the artist and scientist in residence program and a professional development workshop about conveying science through art at the New York Academy of Science.

Curiosity Machine

2017 - 2019

Under the leadership of Drs. Kelly Riedinger and Martin Storksdieck with assistance from Victoria Bonebrake, the Center collaborated with Iridescent Learning to study the impact of project-based learning using their Curiosity Machine program on students and their families in STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics). For this project, Iridescent collaborated with the Illinois Math and Science Academy to provide students at two schools in Chicago with engineering education experiences through its Curiosity Machine platform. The research study, led by the Center, examined the Curiosity Machine as an intervention in both an after-school setting that integrates family programming, and in grades 4-8 classrooms in the two participating schools.

Grounding Institutional Partnerships in Structures for Broader Impacts Design (BID)

2017 - 2022

Higher education institutions and informal science education centers share a common interest in lowering the barriers that separate science and the public. These groups desire tools and strategies for developing mutually beneficial relationships to work together towards this common interest. In this Broader Impacts Design (BID) project, the Center developed and tested a conceptual framework to guide informal science education organizations, higher education institutions and other community-based partners in creating enduring partnerships that support public engagement with science. This framework includes recommendations for the structure and function of the partnerships, as well as tools and resources that enable these institutions to work together effectively.

Broad Implementation of a Professional Learning Model for Outdoor Science Programs (BEETLES)

2017 - 2023

The STEM Research Center at Oregon State University (OSU) led the evaluation efforts with a focus on supporting project improvement. More specifically, the OSU evaluation team (led by Heather Fischer) complemented the project team’s research efforts by assessing the quality of the project as a whole and evaluating the degree to which the project met the goals articulated below. In addition, the OSU team provided external perspectives and expertise related to informal science education, the landscape of outdoor science education, best practices in research and evaluation, and science content.

Undergraduate Field Experiences Network (UFERN)

2017 - 2022

Field stations and marine labs often provide specific types of training not provided anywhere else in the undergraduate education system. Because of the potential of these programs for reaching a broad range of undergraduates across the U.S. and the world and the tremendous investment in field stations and marine labs, it is critical to consider how to best provide effective educational experiences at these venues and other extended field programs. The Undergraduate Field Experiences in Research Network (U-FERN) worked to understand the impacts of these types of experiences and to build a community of practitioners working together with education researchers to share and develop effective practices that are inclusive of all students. The network connects current knowledge about the persistence of underrepresented students in Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) with practitioners of undergraduate field experiences to harness the power of active learning as a potential for increasing participation and persistence in the field-based sciences.

Explorer at Large Pilot Implementation

2017 - 2020

The STEM Research Center was 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 aimed to enable students across three cities in Ohio to experience and practice scientific thinking skills that would prepare them for advanced education and career success within a pedagogical approach that taps into children’s natural curiosity and playfulness.

Landscape Overview of University Systems and People Supporting Scientists in their Public Engagement Efforts

2017 - 2018

This study was commissioned by the Rita Allen Foundation to support a national-scale initiative to support scientists in their public engagement efforts.

Oregon STEM Hub Evaluation

2016 - 2019

STEM Hubs are regionally-focused, multi-sector partnerships that unite schools, universities, non-profits, businesses, civic leaders and other members of communities in so-called local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning ecosystems. STEM Hubs have their origin in recent research on effective STEM programming which strongly recommends integrated approaches to teaching and learning that include not only all students, but also all assets for learning, both in and outside the classroom. To do this, STEM Hubs are implementing strategies that include (amongst others) educator professional development on best practices in STEM instruction; in- and out-of-school, hands-on STEM learning experiences for students; and connections to fast-growing STEM employment opportunities in Oregon. But most importantly, STEM Hubs are creating connections between programs, thereby ensuring that they develop their full effectiveness. The state of Oregon is supporting STEM Hubs by funding a backbone infrastructure as an essential component of a collective impact organization.

Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms

2016 - 2021

The Bringing the University to America’s Classrooms project included the production, evaluation, and dissemination of a comprehensive set of Next Generation Science Standards-aligned interactive modules for K-12 students – collections of STEM resources highlighting NASA science through custom-designed resources, including video clips, interactives, animations, digital games, lab experiences, and accompanying lesson plans.

AAAS Science of Team Science

2016 - 2018

AAAS Science of Team Science was led by Lou Woodley with support from Martin Storksdieck, the STEM Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They partnered to develop a research program that examined the processes by which scientific teams organize, communicate, and collaborate through online platforms, namely the AAAS Trellis site.

STEM Matters: Investigating the Confluence of Visitor and Institutional Agendas

2016 - 2021

Led by Dr. Kelly Riedinger and Dr. Martin Storksdieck with assistance from Kimberley Preston Victoria Bonebrake, Nicolette Canzoneri, and Kevin Keys OSU’s STEM Research Center partnered with two other research organizations, Knology (formerly New Knowledge Organization Ltd. and COSI’s Center for Research and Evaluation on the NSF grant STEM Matters: Investigating the Confluence of Visitor and Institutional Agendas also referred to in the zoo and aquarium field as the Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter (WZAM) project.

Corvallis School District Tablet Evaluation


The Corvallis School District has introduced about 4,000 tablet computers into classrooms with the intent to provide students with access to personal devices and digital resources to support their learning. The implementation of the “tablet program” began in 2012 with the goal of connecting every student to a deeper and more personalized learning experience with instructional technology. The Corvallis School District and the STEM Research Center (Leads: Martin Storksdieck and Nancee Hunter) collaborated on a flexible and responsive research and evaluation process to analyze this effort.

STEM Beyond School

2016 - 2021

The STEM Research Center served as the evaluator for the STEM Beyond School program which used an innovative approach to expand STEM opportunities and student STEM interest, motivation and enthusiasm in STEM-related activities and careers among historically underserved students in grades 3-8 by supporting high-quality out-of-school STEM programming, professional development and a statewide network for community-based out-of-school-time providers.

CAISE Evaluation

2016 - 2021

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.

Schoolyard LTER

2016 - 2026

The STEM Research Center serves as the Schoolyard LTER partner for the Andrews Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Our work focuses on providing authentic science experiences and building data literacy for K-12 teachers and facilitating and evaluating field trips for middle school students. Many center research projects leverage and build upon this partnership, including the Authentic Research Experience for Teachers at Long-Term Ecological Research sites (ARETs@LTERs) and the Advancing Public Engagement Across LTER sites, and the Undergraduate Field Experiences Research Network.