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What is Informal Science Education

Building STEM Skills Through Environmental Education
Science education that takes place outside of the school setting, such as in museums, zoos, and environmental education centers.
Published in Chapter:
“I Want to Be a Herpetologist!”: Using the Study of Reptiles and Amphibians to Engage Youth in STEM
Catherine Marie Scott (Coastal Carolina University, USA) and Adriane Sheffield (Coastal Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2711-5.ch005
The out-of-doors provides unique opportunities to engage youth in the natural environment and to teach STEM content in a more informal setting. In this chapter, the authors share findings from a study focused on elementary-aged students as they participated in a week-long herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians) program at an environmental education center. Informal science education centers provide a context for participants to use STEM to address local, place-based issues, exercise agency in how they practice autonomy within learning activities, and broaden their perceptions of what it means to “do science” through participation in normative scientific practices. However, there is a dearth of literature addressing the use and benefits of environmental education. Using a lens focused on agency and normative scientific practices, the authors examine the ways engagement in environmental education impact participants' perceptions of their abilities to engage in STEM-related practices.
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