Family learning

Our Penn State’s College of Education team in partnership with the Schlow Centre Region Library, three Centre County Libraries, Huntingdon County Library, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center received a federal research grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  Together, we will explore how to best support family science learning as we work with STEM professionals from Penn State University, local businesses, and a rural county agency.

The project will use design-based research to iteratively develop family workshops on five personally relevant science themes that foster science conversations and intergenerational learning: Engineering my World (engineering); Weather Where I am (meteorology); Water Quality in my Community (toxicology, watershed monitoring); Plants around Us (botany, genetics, pollination), and My Happy Valley Sky (astronomy). 

The research team will examine questions including, How can intergenerational library and museum experiences use STEM expert narratives effectively to make the science present in the community more visible and relevant? The project will result in a model for personally relevant informal education that brings together community science topics, hands-on inquiry, and personal stories from STEM experts in order to help museum and library professionals learn where and how to place STEM experts’ stories within programs; engage parents in their children’s learning; and position children as knowledge builders in STEM content areas.  

  • Heather Toomey Zimmerman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education, Penn State University
  • Lucy R. McClain, Ph.D., Science and Education Program Director, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State
  •  Michele Crowl, Ph.D., Director of Education, Discovery Space
  •  Susan M. Land, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education, Penn State University
  • Emily Daigle, STEM Pillars Program and Education Assistant 
  • Torri Withrow, LDT graduate student
  •  Soo Hyeon Kim, LDT doctoral candidate

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