The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy

“I learn more here than I do in school. Honestly, I wouldn’t lie about thatâ€: Creating a space for agency and identity around science.

Jennifer D Adams, Preeti Gupta


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An ongoing issue in science education and the STEM fields in general is the underperformance and underrepresentation of marginalized youth. This is often attributed to a dis-connect between school, school science and the cultures that youth enact and experience in their lifeworlds. However, science education research has demonstrated that these very youth are able to successfully participate in science in spaces that lie outside of the formal structure of schooling. This article uses a framework that merges a transformative activist stance of learning, knowledge and identity development with a place-based framework sociocultural lens to describe the experience of youth working as floor facilitators in a science center where their role is to facilitate learning interactions between visitors and exhibits. Over a three-month period we used cogenerative dialogues as praxis to improve the practice of facilitating visitor interactions and learn about the youths’ identity development.  We learned that this youth-centered context has empowered youth in science leadership roles both in and out of the science center, allowed them to view power issues embedded in formal schooling, and allowed them respect difference and appreciate the multiple perspectives that the general public and their peers bring to science learning experiences. 


informal science education, out-of-school time (OST), youth agency

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