October Expert Panel: It Takes a Village: Using the concept of “Learning Ecosystems” to improve STEM engagement

Overview Blog Playlist Expert Panel Discussion Resources Synthesis Brief



Recorded: October 27, 2021 at 3pm EDT
Presentation Slides
Resources Mentioned During Webinar & Webinar Chat


Description: The concept of STEM Learning Ecosystems has been advanced over the last decade to describe the various designed and natural settings and opportunities for STEM engagement within geographically-defined areas. STEM Learning Ecosystems acknowledge that learning can occur in many settings, and that individuals’ learning pathways connect these settings as part of a person’s total engagement with STEM. The concept has been used to make visible the STEM leaning assets of communities, and it serves as a means to encourage closer cooperation between key actors and stakeholders within communities who are involved in formal and informal STEM education. In this session we will provide examples of STEM Learning Ecosystems, explore how the concept has been used to foster connected learning and discuss research on and through STEM Learning Ecosystems.






Dr. Martin Storksdieck is the director of Oregon State University’s STEM Research Center, and a professor in OSU’s College of Education. He currently serves as PI of a National Science Foundation -funded project to create an event portal to better find local to national STEM engagement opportunities. Previously, he directed the Board on Science Education and the Roundtable on Climate Change Education at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He has more than 25 years of experience with educational research and evaluation in STEM-related fields and in environmental and sustainability education. He holds Master’s degrees in biology and public policy, and a Ph.D. in education. See Martin's Video >>



Dr. Deborah L. Bailey serves as the STEM Education Specialist in the Office of Teaching, Learning and Assessment of the Oregon Department of Education where, among other things, she is managing a portfolio of 13 Oregon STEM Hubs. She received her doctorate in Science Education and a Master's of Public Health from Oregon State University (2015) and her Master's in Resource Development from Michigan State University (2005). While at Oregon State she worked with John H. Falk and Lynn Dierking on the Center's project Advancing STEM, Creativity & Innovation Learning through SYNERGIES. Dr. Bailey’s dissertation research focused on the perception of science learned in an out-of-school garden program and explored the science learning of older adolescents participating in an experiential and free-choice summer garden program. Dr. Bailey is particularly interested in the development of science identity and its influence on individual behavior change. Prior to graduate school she was a Research Assistant at Michigan State University (Extension) where she coordinated a project exploring school-level interventions for health behavior change.



Dr. Nancy Staus is a Senior Researcher at Oregon State University’s STEM Research Center and was previously a Research Associate in OSU's College of Education. Dr. Staus has a strong interest in how and why people learn science and in improving science education both in and out of school. In particular, she is interested in pursuing research on 1) the role of emotion, interest, and attitudes in learning science at the post-secondary level and/or out-of-school settings (e.g. field schools, ecotourism experiences); 2) how out-of-school science experiences support the development of ecologically responsible behaviors. She served as co-PI in the SYNERGIES project, a Lemelson and National Science Foundation-funded R&D project that studied a range of ideas around connected learning within the STEM learning ecosystem of an underserved Portland neighborhood and was also involved in a comparative evaluation of the Oregon STEM Hubs. Dr. Staus received her Ph.D. in Science Education (2012) from Oregon State University and an MS in Conservation Biology (1997) from the University of Minnesota. She has spent 15 years as a biologist at a small non-profit and instructor for introductory ecology courses at Linn-Benton Community College. See Nancy's Video >>



Leigh Peake is Chief Education Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). GMRI conducts scientific research on climate change in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, one of the most rapidly warming bodies of water on earth, as well as adaptation to change in both coastal communities and the fishing industry. GMRI's education portfolio includes a statewide informal science experience that annually engages 70% of the state's 5th/6th grade cohort; citizen-science investigations for middle-school classrooms where students contribute to scientists' climate change research; an extensive suite of teacher professional learning experiences; and a growing portfolio of learning research projects. For over 17 years GMRI's education approach has focused on connecting informal and formal learning experiences, manifesting most recently in a network of regional learning ecosystems across the state where teachers, informal educators of all kinds, and librarians collaborate to create locally driven, connected climate learning experiences for youth. See Leigh's Video >>