Unit 9: Hesitancy about STEM Programs in My Community

Foyer Forums Rural Gateways professional development discussions Unit 9: Hesitancy about STEM Programs in My Community

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    • #10237
      Karen Brown
      Keymaster

      In the first video in Unit 9, John Falk and Andrew Maynard discuss factors that may contribute to someone’s hesitancy about participating in a library’s science programs – e.g., relevance to a person’s everyday life, a person’s past experience with science learning, trusting the person who presents the science information/program. Do you recognize any of these factors or influences in discussions you have with adults in your community?

    • #12999
      Anne McDonough
      Participant

      I can understand that patrons might be hesitant about attending a very technical science program, but the experience we’ve had here lean in the other direction. On September 24th, we had a very scientific speaker, Dr Peter Neilley from weather.com, PhD from MIT and holder of many other intimidating degrees and awards come give a talk on climate change. Our program room was overflowing. From what I gather from Dr Neilley and others like him, that patrons don’t expect to understand every word, or even every idea yet they are open to listen.

    • #13002
      DonnaBlomquist
      Participant

      I agree with Anne M. Patrons attend obviously “science content” programs at our library as well as attending what at first glance might appear to be a humanities program — but most of those have science in them. I think that’s the point of this grant program — as Mark pointed out in his video, STEM is everywhere; what matters is how it is presented — as an everyday knowledge that we all can use, or something only for people with a very narrow focus in a particular area of science.

      I was a bit dismayed that this video regarding hesitancy was a bit negative — almost making me think that offering this content might be difficult. That hasn’t been my experience. Unlike Anne’s success with a program on climate change (which I plan to copy, thank you, Anne!) which would be controversial in my community, I avoided football because, at least in my area, traumatic brain injury in high school sports is even more controversial. When we thought about training and muscle memory, we thought about learning to ride a bike as a child, Olympic gymnasts, or even the tradition of making pizza and “tossing” the crust.

    • #13003
      MandyCook
      Participant

      I think one of the things we can do as librarians is make our programs as learning tools. We can show ways people use science (and want to learn science) without knowing they are, or making it sound super obvious that it is a “a STEM program.” People of all ages like to learn and I think that’s important to remember when planning programs. That hesitancy may not be there as much as we think.

    • #13004
      KariRingelberg
      Participant

      Seeing what the public attends here at the library, I tend to copy those types of programs. It is hard to introduce something new as they are hesitant to attend, whether science related or not. People are just so busy in this small community, trying to take time out to learn something new just can’t or won’t be fit in. At least this grant is giving me ideas to try – I just wish I could make them come.

    • #13008
      KristinaMoe
      Participant

      As I watched this, I thought about how eager my patrons are to come to “sciency” programs but then it dawned on me, I’m thinking of “my” patrons- the ones I already see on a semi-regular basis at events here AND out in the community (theatre, hiking, pubs/coffeeshops, etc.).
      What about so many other people in our community, including the people who DO come to the library for help with those basic needs mentioned early in the video, who I don’t think of as my program attendees? How do I adjust my attitude and invitation to welcome those people as well, and how do I reach them? These are hypothetical questions 🙂 I generally can tell if someone is really only here to fill out a job application and doesn’t want to hear the dozens of other things we have to offer (besides free internet) but this IS a good reminder to ALWAYS include a super quick mention that this is THEIR library and we’ve got lots more to offer when they have time.
      Back to the hesitation someone might feel when the hear/read about a STEM program- I am up front about it in descriptions and include something like “STEM isn’t just for students and scientists; it’s for ALL of us, every day…”
      And I like the positive note the video ends on- given the right environment, people are generally smart and open. It’s true! We just have to make people feel like this is THEIR space, and we expect good things from them, and generally they’ll meet and rise above those expectations. Might as well go into it with that attitude, right?

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