settings, as well as in schools. Although it is important to understand the impact of informal environments, a more important question may be how science learning occurs across the range of formal and informal environments and how formal and informal educators can capitalize on these connections.
Informal science educators are recognizing the power of providing ways for participants to extend and deepen learning experiences and are using the idea of connected learning experiences in their designs. For example, working at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Leona Schauble and Karol Bartlett designed an extended trajectory for science learning by using the idea of a funnel to map the way exhibits were laid out in space.1 The outer edge of the funnel served all learners and consisted of easily accessible, compelling, and loosely structured experiences. The second level of the funnel was a series of quieter, restricted areas called Discovery Labs. Learners who chose to continue to pursue the big idea in question could move into these spaces. At the Dock Shop, participants could explore boat design, including the design of different types of hulls tested for carrying capacity and various sail types tested with a wind machine.
The deepest portion of the funnel was designed for repeat visitors, such as museum members and children from the local neighborhood. The activities in this portion of the gallery built on children’s prior experiences in the museum, at home, and at school. Visitors could borrow kits that were housed in the museum and distributed through local libraries. These kits contained materials that allowed children to extend their explorations in more detailed, sustained studies and to send in their results to the museum through Science Postcards. Learners who wanted to pursue a particular topic in even greater depth might choose to come back for an extended visit or several visits or to seek out other related activities, such as reading books on the topic or watching relevant television shows.
Many institutions extend their learning opportunities through systems for lending visitors objects and interpretive materials, such as books, other printed materials, activity kits, or videos, for a period of time. Some, like Science North in Canada, have made sharing educational resources a two-way street: they allow visitors or customers to contribute to the pool of resources made available to others, by borrowing or buying such resources from visitors who may have developed them as they engaged in scientific pursuits or science education activities outside the institution. Many museums are also turning to other forms of media, particularly the Internet, as a means of extending a visit to the museum through online activities.
In fact, broadcast, print, and digital media can play an important role in facilitating science learning across settings. Educational programming, “serious