can increase the ways in which diverse learners can identify with and make meaning from their informal science learning experiences.
Conclusion 9: Informal environments can have a significant impact on science learning outcomes for individuals from nondominant groups who are historically underrepresented in science.
Several studies suggest that informal environments for science learning may be particularly effective for youth from historically nondominant groups—groups with limited sociopolitical status in society, who are often marginalized because of their cultural, language, and behavioral differences. For example, as discussed in Chapter 6, evaluations of museum-based and after-school programs suggest that these experiences can support academic gains for children and youth from nondominant groups. These successes often draw on local issues and the prior interests of participants (e.g., integration of science learning and service to the community, projects that involve participants’ own backyard or local community). Several case studies of community science programs targeting participation of youth from historically nondominant groups document participants’ sustained, sophisticated engagement with science and sustained influence on school science course selection and career choices. In these programs, children and youth play an active role in shaping the subject and process of inquiry, which may include local health or environmental issues about which they subsequently educate the community.
Conclusion 10: Partnerships between science-rich institutions and local communities show great promise for fostering inclusive science learning. Developing productive partnerships requires considerable time and energy.
Many designers in informal science learning are making efforts to address inequity and wish to partner with members of diverse communities. Effective strategies for organizing partnerships include identifying shared goals; designing experiences around local issues of local relevance; supporting participants’ patterns of participation (e.g., family structure, modes of discourse); and designing experiences that satisfy the values and norms and reflect the practices of all partners.
Community-based programs that involve diverse learners in locally defined science inquiry, such as identifying and studying local health and environmental concerns, show promise for developing sustained, meaningful engagement (see Chapter 6, “Citizen Science and Volunteer Monitoring Programs”). Specific cultural resources can also be harnessed in program design (see Chapter 7, “Science Learning Is Cultural”). Many cultural groups spend leisure time in extended, multigenerational families, and partnerships