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Teenage Designers of Learning Places for Children

"Learning Places" are educational environments supported by hands-on activities and innovative strategies that integrate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics into after-school programs.

Learning Places Overview

The St. Louis Science Center and the Science Museum of Minnesota received funding from 2004-2008 from the National Science Foundation (#ISE-05155732) for the Teenage Designers of Learning Places for Children project. The Learning Places project was designed to have the following impacts:

  • Promote learning of STEM concepts and processes by adolescents and children through innovative hands-on STEM learning experiences in informal settings
  • Engage staff and administration of science museums and after-school centers in support of STEM education in low-income urban communities
  • Develop and disseminate a model for collaborative design and implementation of STEM learning opportunities by university faculty, science centers, community centers, youth organizations and teenagers.

Learning Places project activities began in 2004 at the St. Louis Science Center and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Both sites had well established youth programs and an existing programmatic presence in the surrounding communities. Although many of the challenges regarding sustainability of effective STEM practices in the community were similar for both sites, the approaches of the programs in each city differed.

In both sites youth were recruited from local community centers serving largely low income, African American, Hmong, Somali and Hispanic populations, and then hired as museum staff. They received extensive training and support in preparation for designing and building environments for science and math learning in local afterschool centers. Three years of collaboration among community center and science center staff followed with the shared goal of establishing dedicated STEM spaces in the community. Physical STEM places now exist in nine community centers in St. Paul and St. Louis.

Learn more about St. Louis Science Center's YES program, and the Science Museum of Minnesota's Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center