Impacts of Hands-On Science Curriculum for Elementary School Students and Families Delivered on a Mobile Laboratory

Published:2019, Journal of STEM Outreach
Vol. 2, January 2019
Authors:Amanda L. Jones, Alexander C. Chang, Rebecca A. Carter,and William H. Roden

Mobile Science Lab, Primary Education, Outreach, STEM Education

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High-quality, hands-on science education is lacking in many low-resource schools. Seattle Children’s Research Institute launched a mobile science lab program in 2009 to support the efforts of schools in Washington state by providing access to engaging hands-on science activities and opportunities to interact with scientists. For this study, we provided intensive science enrichment to students in grade four and their families with the goals of improving knowledge of key topics in the life sciences, increasing engagement in learning science, and encouraging student interest in a career in STEM. Four new activities were created for this project, two of which included family participation. Students at ten Title I-eligible schools completed two new curriculum modules on the mobile lab, and students and family members attended a science night at the school and a field trip to Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Students who participated in the project demonstrated statistically significant gains in knowledge of the topics addressed by the activities and in the ability to recognize typical STEM careers and tasks associated with those careers, which persisted into grade five. The family events were well attended with family members reporting increased confidence in talking with their child about STEM.