The committee makes specific recommendations about how to organize, design, and support science learning. These recommendations provide a research and development agenda to be explored, tested, and refined. They have broad reach and application for a range of actors, including funders and leaders in practice and research; institution-based staff who are responsible for the design, evaluation, and enactment of practice; and those who provide direct service to learners—scout leaders, club organizers, front-line staff in science centers. Here we make recommendations to specific actors who can influence science learning in practice. Additional recommendations for research appear in Chapter 9.

Exhibit and Program Designers

Exhibit and program designers play an important role in determining what aspects of science are reflected in learning experiences, how learners engage with science and with one another, and the type and quality of educational materials that learners use.

Recommendation 1: Exhibit and program designers should create informal environments for science learning according to the following principles. Informal environments should

  • be designed with specific learning goals in mind (e.g., the strands of science learning)

  • be interactive

  • provide multiple ways for learners to engage with concepts, practices, and phenomena within a particular setting

  • facilitate science learning across multiple settings

  • prompt and support participants to interpret their learning experiences in light of relevant prior knowledge, experiences, and interests

  • support and encourage learners to extend their learning over time

Recommendation 2: From their inception, informal environments for science learning should be developed through community-educator partnerships and whenever possible should be rooted in scientific problems and ideas that are consequential for community members.

Recommendation 3: Educational tools and materials should be developed through iterative processes involving learners, educators, designers, and experts in science, including the sciences of human learning and development.

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