. "Appendix D: Summary of Selected National Academies Reports." Nurturing and Sustaining Effective Programs in Science Education for Grades K-8: Building a Village in California: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
Learning Science in Informal Environments:People, Places, and Pursuits(2009)
Science is shaping people’s lives in fundamental ways. Efforts to enhance scientific capacity typically target schools and focus on such strategies as improving science curriculum and teacher training and strengthening the science pipeline. What is often overlooked or underestimated is the potential for science learning in nonschool settings, where people actually spend the majority of their time.
This report examines the potential of nonschool settings for science learning. The authoring committee assessed the evidence of science learning across settings, learner age groups, and over varied spans of time; they identified the qualities of learning experiences that are special to informal environments and those that are shared (e.g., with schools); and proposed an agenda for research and development The committee examined the places where science learning occurs as well as cross-cutting features of informal learning environments. The “places” include everyday experiences—like hunting, walking in the park, watching a sunrise—designed settings—such as visiting a science center, zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, planetarium—and programs—such as after-school science or environmental monitoring through a local organization. Cross-cutting features that shape informal environments include the role of media as a context and tool for learning and the opportunities these environments provide for inclusion of culturally, socially, and linguistically diverse communities.