Essays on Science and SocietySPORE* Series Winner

Science Buddies: Advancing Informal Science Education

Science  29 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6029, pp. 550-551
DOI: 10.1126/science.1196978

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Summary

Every year, about 10 million North American kindergarten through high school (K–12) students complete a science project. What part of these science projects is the most difficult? Formulating a hypothesis? Designing an experiment? Analyzing data? The answer: None of the above. Science Buddies (www.sciencebuddies.org)—a nonprofit developer of software, content, and other resources for informal science and engineering education—found that students have the most difficulty selecting a topic and doing background research to inform their work. Meanwhile, scientists and engineers interested in advising and inspiring students often do not have a means to connect with them (see the first figure). To Science Buddies, these difficulties presented an ideal challenge, and we applied a business methodology to address them, viewing our users as customers and our output as products.