Date of Award

Spring 4-10-2024

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Title

How Informal STEM Learning Opportunities Benefit Diverse Communities


Whittier Scholars Program

First Advisor

Dr. Lauren Swanson


In today's world, equitable access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education is imperative. However, minority and underrepresented communities often face barriers to participation in formal educational settings. Informal learning, occurring outside of the classroom, presents an opportunity for these communities to engage with STEM subjects in accessible and inclusive environments. Out of School Time (OST) programs and informal learning play a significant role in providing high quality, hands-on, experiential STEM education focused on skill building, and college and career readiness. Despite the importance of STEM learning, persistent disparities exist, particularly among culturally diverse communities, due to systemic discrimination and structural inequalities. This paper explores the role of OST and informal learning in addressing these disparities and bridging the equity gap in STEM education. Through informal education programs such as The Science Circus Whittier Project, these initiatives empower students from diverse backgrounds to explore and excel in STEM subjects, thereby contributing to a more diverse and skilled workforce capable of driving future innovation and progress.