How can Informal Science learning (ISL) be more inclusive? How can ISL help support more diverse participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)? These are key questions for the informal science learning, STEM and education sectors.
ISL has considerable potential for engaging young people with STEM. Yet, there is a lack of tools and training to support ISL practitioners in embedding equity and inclusion into their practice. There is an urgent need to build capacity in understanding and engaging with complex issues of equity and social justice, in both policy and practice.
If you are a practitioner who wants to support all young people in STEM, but particularly those from minoritised communities and those who have been historically excluded, the resources from the Youth Equity and STEM (YESTEM) project can support you on your journey.
The YESTEM project focused on identifying, understanding and supporting equitable practice in ISL. Our academic research team worked closely with practitioners to co-produce a series of resources for informal STEM learning practitioners. Our approach is based on a three-part model (see Fig. 1 below):
- “Reflect”: Practitioners use a tool called the Equity Compass, which supports critical reflective practice - see Fig. 2.
- “Act”: Practical resources to help practitioners to adopt Core Equitable Practices
- “Outcomes”: A framework to help practitioners to identify and support Equitable Youth Outcomes.
Figure 1: The YESTEM model Figure 2: The Equity Compass
What ISL practitioners say
These resources have already made a difference to informal science learning organisations and practitioners, challenging and informing their approaches and thinking:
“It’s completely changed the way we work.”
Science centre practitioner
“I think one of the biggest changes has been recognising areas where we might be too comfortable, too complacent … but using the compass, it really solidified what we do and just made sure that we were acknowledging it.”
“I think our main thing would be stopping and reflecting on what we’re actually doing.
Community centre practitioner
Take the next steps in equitable ISL design
Take the next steps in A range of tools and resources are available for free on the YESTEM website. This includes an explanatory animation and video overview, a series of short films sharing how the YESTEM tools have supported ISL practitioners, and a free online professional development course to train ISL practitioners to use the Equity Compass.
Key practitioner resources:
- The Equity Compass
- Free online course: Using the Equity Compass
- Core Equitable Practices
- Equitable Youth Outcomes
- How to set up and run an equitable youth board
- Youth Equity + STEM: A research practice partnership for more equitable and just ISL
- Working with young people through a youth advisory group
- The Equity Compass: Funders' edition
Knowles West Media Centre
We the Curious
Impressions 5 Science Center
Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
Boys & Girls Clubs of Lansing
Girls, Inc. of the Pacific Northwest
Institute for Learning Innovation/Oregon State University
University College London
University of Michigan
Project leads: Louise Archer, Emily Dawson and Spela Godec (University College London)
Contact: Spela Godecs.firstname.lastname@example.org