Skip to main content

Welcome, you are visiting Informal STEM

Informal STEM Profile

Informal STEM Teaching and Learning Through Infusing Computational Thinking into Science Learning


All forms of computation are on the near horizon as necessary to learn as well as incorporate into learning of science. The STEM+C (STEM + Computing Partnerships) program has as its goal the integration of computation and science. This specific project will build and pilot a Community Center Afterschool Program (CCAP) model for integrating computation across K-12 disciplines at three community centers and their three affiliated Kid City Programs (6 locations) serving high needs, Title I schools in Boise, Idaho. Motivation for this project is based on the national urgency of integrating computational thinking (CT) in K-12 STEM education, a lack of qualified K-12 computing teachers, and local needs of quality STEM+C programs for high needs students. The CCAP model focuses on student learning and teacher professional development (PD) through pre-/in-service teacher-led, project-based, integrated STEM+C hands-on inquiry projects.
Afterschool programs provide opportunities for thoughtful, reflective engagement in complex, integrated projects that require combined knowledge across STEM disciplines and applications of computational thinking (CT), which are needed for computational integration. The CCAP model uses STEM+C inquiry/projects as a bridge between informal and formal learning and as a means of teacher PD. Not only will this project address student learning and teacher PD in CT, it will connect informal and formal learning and extend teacher PD to classroom practice. Project goals include: 1) design and implement a CCAP model; 2) explore how to integrate CT in project-based, integrated STEM inquiry for 4th-6th grade students in afterschool programs; and 3) examine how engagement in such inquiry impacts students and teachers. The project teams will: 1) design at least four project-based, integrated STEM+C inquiry projects aligned with standards via iterative design-based research; 2) implement them in small groups of six students paired with two teachers; 3) train 24 pre- and 24 in-service Title 1 school teachers with 144 students.