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  1. Kelly Riedinger
  2. http://stem.oregonstate.edu/people/kelly-riedinger
  3. Senior Researcher
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Oregon State University
  1. Jim Hammerman
  2. https://www.terc.edu/profiles/jim-hammerman/
  3. Co-Director, STEM Education Evaluation Center
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. TERC
  1. Leigh Peake
  2. Chief Education Officer
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Gulf of Maine Research Institute

LabVenture - Revealing Systemic Impacts of a 12-Year Statewide Science Field ...

NSF Awards: 1811452

2022 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6

The Revealing Systemic Impacts of a Statewide Science Field Trip Program research study applies learning ecosystem models as a theoretical and analytic framework to investigate the impact of a longstanding, statewide field trip program in the state of Maine. The study uses the LabVenture program as an example of a longstanding field trip that has been running for more than 15-years and reaches 70% of students across the state to understand potential community-level impacts. Although there are many prior studies of field trips that focus on students, teachers or schools, the characteristics of the LabVenture program allow us to extend this work by exploring community-level questions such as: To what degree does an experience that is shared across a community lead to a traceable change that can be measured for those who participated and across the broader community? In what ways, if at all, can one out-of-school experience have an influence on the larger learning ecosystem (e.g., the Maine education system)? The video will highlight our research findings from complementary data collection methods including retrospective interviews with students and teacher alumni, a statewide survey administered with the public across the state of Maine, intercept interviews and focus group discussions in case study communities. We look forward to talking with other researchers conducting studies with community partners and to discussing implications of study findings with researchers and education practitioners.

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Discussion from the 2022 STEM For All Video Showcase (14 posts)
  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Co-Presenter
    Chief Education Officer
    May 10, 2022 | 07:34 a.m.

    Welcome to our video! Our project has used a field trip experience as the starting point for applying a learning ecosystem framework to try to discern community-level attitudes about where STEM learning happens. We're looking forward to a dialogue with all of you about the affordances and challenges of conducting research using the "learning ecosystem" frame as well as conversations about how STEM learning crosses the schoolyard boundary. We are particularly interested to talk about how researchers, community-based partners, and practitioners can work together to conduct research at the level of the community. Looking forward to our conversation!

  • Icon for: Kelly Riedinger

    Kelly Riedinger

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Researcher
    May 10, 2022 | 10:41 a.m.

    Thanks for kicking us off, Leigh! I wanted to add that on the research side, we look forward to engaging in conversation around the methodology and how we traced any potential signal from participants directly involved in the program (e.g., students, participating teachers, parent chaperones) out to the community. 

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Facilitator
    Co-Director
    May 10, 2022 | 10:03 a.m.

    Hi, Leigh, 

       Great team and interesting work -- I've been curious about how it's going since first heard about it.   Has your model of what the parts of a learning ecosystem would be changed as you have gotten into things?  Can you start to see who's learning, and how the learnings are different from one constituent of the system as compared to another (e.g. students learning more about science practices, or teachers getting more into the process of research, or scientists changing their research approaches, or gaining renewed motivation....) ?

     

  • Icon for: Kelly Riedinger

    Kelly Riedinger

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Researcher
    May 10, 2022 | 10:47 a.m.

    Thanks for your question, Brian. Our study was exploring questions like, 

    • To what degree does an experience that is shared by an entire generation within a community lead to a traceable change that can be measured for those who participated and across the broader community?
    • In what ways, if at all, can one out-of-school experience have an influence on the larger learning ecosystem (e.g., the Maine education system)?

    One thing we're learning from our findings so far is the role of teachers champions, which Leigh discusses in the video. These are teachers that advocate for the program and put structures in place such as training new teachers to ensure the school continues to participate, even when there is teacher turnover. Another finding is that while the program appears to be well-known among participants, particularly teachers, it did not necessarily spread beyond those directly involved in the program. We were not able to trace a “ripple” into the community with our data collection methods.

     

     
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    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Billy Spitzer

    Billy Spitzer

    Facilitator
    Executive Director
    May 10, 2022 | 12:51 p.m.

    Hi Leigh!

    It's great to hear how you and the team are applying a "learning ecosystem" approach, and understanding more about what this looks like in practice.

    I was curious to learn more about the role of "teacher champions" and if/how these teachers saw their role in the local community (beyond the school itself). I was also wondering what motivated them to support the continuation of the program--did they develop a strong attachment to the program, and/or were there specific incentives that helped?

    Thanks,
    Billy

  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Co-Presenter
    Chief Education Officer
    May 10, 2022 | 05:07 p.m.

    Thanks for the great question, Billy. @Kelly and @Jim may be able to answer the question of how teachers see their roles in the community from their interviews with teachers. My program perspective is that teachers' attachment to the program seems to show up as placing value on the entirety of the experience -- the content we provide is great, but for many it's the whole package of getting kids out of their county for what is often the kids' first time to Portland or to the ocean and first time seeing that STEM research is done right here in Maine. As mentioned a bit below, the team lowers all possible barriers for the teacher. It's often a big contrast to the hassles of school-organized trips (getting a bus, getting permissions, etc.) and I think it makes it easy for them to repeat each year. We do pair the experience with open source curriculum for before/after the field trip and with the opportunity for (stipended) teacher professional learning around the experience. But I think those are things that come to matter after a teacher has come to be a "champion" rather than being a key incentive.

     
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    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Kelly Riedinger

    Kelly Riedinger

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Researcher
    May 10, 2022 | 05:42 p.m.

    Thanks for your question, Billy. We collected data from retrospective surveys and interviews with teacher alumni -- teachers did not necessarily describe their role in the community explicitly but some from rural areas did take students on the field trip because they valued it as an important opportunity for students in their community, as Leigh describes above.

    There is not a specific incentive for teachers to participate but our preliminary findings suggest there are some aspects of the program that teachers valued or appreciated such as the opportunity for students to use "real-world" science, engage with technology and experience science learning in a novel setting. Teachers also noted the logistical support that Leigh commented on earlier -- the fact that the transportation is arranged for them at no cost, the continuity of the program and their school's ongoing participation which makes it easier to get administrative approval to attend. 

     
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    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Maria (Mia) Ong

    Maria (Mia) Ong

    Researcher
    May 10, 2022 | 12:59 p.m.

    Terrific video! Beyond the importance of ecosystems education, I enjoyed hearing about the program is free to all schools and the strong support from teachers and communities alike. What are main components for states interested in replicating this offering?

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Co-Presenter
    Chief Education Officer
    May 10, 2022 | 04:47 p.m.

    Thanks for the question. I would say the most important element, and unfortunately the biggest challenge to replication, is providing free transportation. It's historically been possible to get one-time funding to build the space or create the content. But the year-after-year work of supplying free transportation is daunting. After 17 years we've built a cohort of corporate and philanthropic donors who remain committed and see the necessity of funding the not-very-flashy work of keeping the buses rolling. A thank-you note from the classes to the sponsors is the only thing required by the program and it creates a virtual cycle between the student beneficiaries and the sponsors that (hopefully) helps them see the impact of their dollars. The second thing that comes to mind relates back to the question above about "teacher champions" -- we make it as easy as possible for teachers to sign up, lowering every possible barrier we can think of from choosing the date, to securing permissions, aligning with required standards, and communicating on that day about the timing of the bus. We consistently hear that the ease of making it happen is one reason teachers come year after year. Does that help?

     
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    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Jim Hammerman

    Jim Hammerman

    Co-Presenter
    Co-Director, STEM Education Evaluation Center
    May 10, 2022 | 05:05 p.m.

    The evidence shows that the fundraising and efforts to make the visit easy to organize and participate in are making a difference, too. A recent analysis shows that, after controlling for school enrollment, travel time to Portland, and coastal location, there's no difference in participation rates based on community economic resources.

    Larger schools do participate somewhat more than smaller schools, perhaps because it's easier to find a champion in a larger school, or because they don't need to coordinate with nearby communities to fill a bus. Schools that are further away (up to 5.5 hours) participate slightly less than those that are closer, though coastal communities near Portland participate less than would be expected, perhaps because the experience of going to Portland doesn't seem as novel as it is for inland communities.

  • Icon for: Beatriz Canas

    Beatriz Canas

    Facilitator
    Director of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility
    May 10, 2022 | 03:15 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing more about your project. The learning ecosystem approach is very interesting. It was great to hear that you removed a significant access barrier by making the program free. I am interested in learning more about the equity principles or framework used to determine approach.

    Thanks!

    Beatriz

  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Co-Presenter
    Chief Education Officer
    May 10, 2022 | 04:57 p.m.

    To be completely honest, the main equity lens at the start was geographic because we were focused on how youth from our urban centers have a lot more access to STEM experiences than in rural Maine. So it felt like job #1 was to give rural kids access and, as mentioned above, transportation was the central element. The next big leap for us is taking what is a one-size-fits-all program and customizing it to the youth in the room. For example, we're working with the incredible Wabanaki Youth in Science program to think about what we put into and around this western science experience to place it inside an envelope built of Indigenous knowledge. Similarly, partners at Gateway Community Services will be helping us reflect the immigrant/refugee experience of new Mainers into the space and program. I wish we could say we were rebuilding from scratch with a stronger equity framework -- we have a long way to go on that front and are fortunate to have partners who have the patience to help design that journey. 

    I would also say that your question and our dilemmas raise the trade-offs between scale and customization that I know many organizations wrestle with. I would love to hear how others have addressed those challenges so we can learn from them!

     
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    Sarah Kirn
  • Icon for: Jake Foster

    Jake Foster

    Founder
    May 13, 2022 | 03:15 p.m.

    Great to see how you are considering the inter-related pieces to make the student experience engaging, meaningful, and accessible! Can you say a bit about how you engage with schools or communities prior to the students visiting to ensure coherence or connection between the on-site experience and school programming, or even impact back in the school or community? It seems from the video that teacher champions help ensure participation in the LabVenture experience. What do they do, or what do they bring back with them, to impact their community? You must have to do a bit of work to ensure that the ecosystem is more than about logistics and what students experience in just the field trip! Thank you for sharing your work!

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
  • Icon for: Sabrina De Los Santos

    Sabrina De Los Santos

    Researcher
    May 16, 2022 | 07:50 p.m.

    Hi Jake, Thank you for the great questions! Teachers receive professional learning experiences where they get to experience LabVenture before bringing their classroom on the field trip. They also receive an introduction to classroom activities and engage in reflections with other educators. You can learn more about the PD sessions here: https://gmri.org/projects/teacher-professional-development/

    GMRI has also developed modules for students to continue exploring data and LabVenture content in the classroom: https://teach.gmri.org/find-content/labventure/. As part of our research, we interviewed some teachers who have participated in the program, and most mentioned pre and post activities they did with their students to connect the field trip with the curriculum. We are still analyzing the teacher interview data, but other teams have been focusing on the PD, modules and connections to the curriculum, and might be able to expand on this.  

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