Science Identity Construction
The central focus of XSci’s work is science identity construction – or the psychological processes by which people become inspired by science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) to the point of personal relevance, ownership, and integration into the sense of self. We take the position that the learning of new things can go beyond their incorporation into internal frameworks (or schema) for understanding (as traditional theories suggest), to actually inform, modify, and become integrated into a person’s identity or identities. Simply put… learning changes us, sometimes deeply.
Science Identity Research Projects
As part of our on-going research agenda, XSci generates a number of exciting science learning projects designed to enhance participants’ science identities. These projects focus on providing unique experientially-based learning opportunities in both formal and informal education environments. They also focus on innovative uses of technology in education.
An Innovative NSF-sponsored project to create a virtual simulator of what it is like to pilot a hydrobot under the ice in Antarctica. Based on actual polar hydrobot designs and missions, we also partnered with the Marine Advanced Technology Education Centers to study how students engaged in international hydrobot competitions transfer knowledge and skills from the simulator to the real-world.
A national scale project to create methods necessary for museum and science center educators to design/deliver their own live, multi-media enhanced theatrical productions within outreach programs. The STEPS collaborative involved over 15 different science learning and technology-based organizations and included research to examine the impact of development participation on the informal educators.
Confronting a far-reaching crisis in American science education, Inspire Me is both a celebration of the art of teaching and a powerful call-to-action to do it better. Science takes flight in this combination of vision, urgency, and life-changing experience. Inspire Me! chronicles the extraordinary experiences of science teachers across the country as they fly on Zero G flights and experience weightlessness.
In collaboration with NASA, this innovative project combined a dramatic fictional video story of astronauts encountering a massive solar storm while they are en-route to Mars with a set of co-curricular activities for middle and high school students centering on the nature of space weather and radiation, its effects on the human body, and NASA’s countermeasure technology to protect astronauts.