The themes I noticed among these papers were that we need lifelong, life-wide, and life-deep learning occurring within a framework that involves people, places, and cultures. We also need to give learners new information and models that can build on or challenge their intuitive ideas. We also need crosscutting concepts in learning, not only teaching to nurture scientists but to also nurture the skills other professions like engineering or technology related fields might use. Formal education is necessary in deeply understanding mechanics of some scientific aspects, however informal education is still needed if all students are to have meaningful science and engineering learning.
Many students are being turned off of science in schools, but in an informal setting, are often engaged and entertained by science. This is why out of school learning is so important; people need to invest in their communities that provide these opportunities through museums, science centers, botanic gardens, zoos, and other sites. A lot of informal science education is missed for children whose parents do not have the time, money, or inclination to spend on visiting or interacting with these scientific communities. This makes me realize how lucky I was to have parents that were interested in providing these opportunities for me, as well as had an interest for themselves by having a lifelong learning experience. One could not say for sure what the impact of these scientific interactions has had for me, but I know my dad’s interest in astronomy as a hobby as always piqued my interests in space science as well as wanting to learn about how our universe works.
Since informal education can be so varied for our future students, teachers need to make sure that the formal education they are providing is just as fun but also meaningful. One could easily design all sorts of “fun” science related activities, but making sure those activities can provide good engagement with learning concepts and/or mechanics of science can be a challenge. This probably would not be as much of a probably for high school students, but making sure the “fun” aspects of science are not overtaking a lesson seems like it could be a challenge. How much fun is too much? Is there even a limit if the students really are learning meaningfully? I feel like in order for a teacher to even assess if his/her students have learned concepts, one would have to tone down the fun so that some kind of serious discourse could occur among students.