Professional Development icon
Unit Two
What is Informal STEM Learning?

Welcome to Unit Two. Now that you have an overview of all the different resources you’ll be using, let’s start exploring the materials available to help you plan and implement informal STEM programs in your library.    

In this unit you will: 

    • Explore the key features of informal STEM learning (ISL)

 

    • Learn why ISL engages learners

 

  • Build an understanding of your library’s potential to foster ISL

.
 
 

Before thinking about the nuts and bolts of implementing STEM programs in your library, let’s take a few minutes to consider the different ways you have learned about science throughout your own life.

    • Download Mapping My Learning About Science. As you saw in Unit One, there will often be two download icons, one for a PDF, and one that will provide an MS Word document. The content in each document is the same, but if you’d like to print the document and work in hard copy, you may prefer the PDF. Alternatively, you can open the Word document and work on it on your computer.arrows

 

    • Take about 5-10 minutes to write down your thoughts regarding your own science learning. When you’re done, please visit the Community of Practice discussion, “Unit Two: Mapping Your Own ISL,” to share some of your experiences. Then return here to view the first video.

 

  • While watching this first video, consider the characteristics of “informal STEM learning” and why those characteristics make ISL so popular. When you’re using full screen mode, you’ll have the controls at the bottom of the video that will allow you to advance and rewind the video. After viewing, you can select the esc key to escape full screen.
download icondownload MS Word icon
 
 
.

 

Unit Two, Video One
Characteristics of ISL

 

As Fred Stein explained, the five characteristics of effective informal STEM learning are:

    • Lifelong

 

    • Personalized

 

    • Voluntary

 

    • Self-directed

 

  • Self-motivating

Review your responses on Mapping My Learning About Science and consider how each of those ISL characteristics was a part of your own learning processes.

 

Unlike some schools’ curricula or other formal educational programs, the primary goal of informal STEM learning is not solely focused on teaching more science “information.” Surely, that can and will happen, but ISL has a much broader purpose.

ISL programs are a way for learners of all ages to learn about the actual nature of science – what it is, why it’s important to a democratic society, and how it affects all of us, every day.

Unit Two, Video Two
Science Attitudes

 
While many people may feel anxious about science, or may say, “I’m not a scientist, I can’t talk about science,” what’s actually more important is if people can begin to think scientifically and to look at the world the way scientists do. This scientific approach is essential to developing strong and successful ISL programs in your community.

.
 
 

Let’s consider some ways that organizations in your community promote informal STEM learning.

    • Download ISL Opportunities in My Community and create a list of organizations and settings that foster informal STEM learning in your community.arrows

 

  • Let’s now consider another very important reason why ISL engages people – it taps into a core human characteristic: curiosity.
download icondownload MS Word icon
 
 
.

 

Unit Two, Video Three
Everyday Curiosity and ISL

 

.
 
 
    • Next download My Library and Informal STEM Learning. arrows

 

    • Think about your library and how it currently promotes ISL. Keep in mind the characteristics of ISL:
        • Lifelong

       

        • Personalized

       

        • Voluntary

       

        • Self-directed

       

        • Self-motivating

       

 

  • Respond to the questions before sharing your thoughts with your colleagues in the Community of Practice discussion thread, “Unit Two: ISL in My Community and Library.”
     
    It promises to be a lively discussion as we identify multiple ways that your library can foster more informal science learning. We’ll also discuss the wide array of potential informal STEM partners in our communities.
download icondownload MS Word icon
 
 
.
 

 
go to top

end of page

 

X

Forgot Password?

Join Us