Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places and Pursuits

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National Research Council

The key to sparking an interest in science may lie outside of the classroom setting, according to this new report. It finds that informal environments like museums, parks and after-school programs help fuel the desire to learn about science. In addition, the report mentions that learning science in informal environments is particularly beneficial for groups - like women and minorities - not traditionally known for making significant contributions to science. 

The National Research Council drew upon such methods as field research, visitor studies and psychological studies to determine the ties between informal learning and academic gains in science.  Free, 327 pages. (888) 624-8373. Available online at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12190#description.