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Blizard Institute - Barts and The London

Educators at Centre of the Cell shown to boost learning

New research led by North Carolina State University and the University of Exeter has shown that youth educators at informal science learning sites such as Centre of the Cell play an important role in promoting engagement with STEM learning for young people outside of formal education.

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Centre of the Cell team inside Neuron Pod

The new research paper, titled ‘Interest and Learning in Informal Science Learning Sites: Differences in Experiences with Different Types of Educators’, published in the journal PLOS One was co-written by experts from the Blizard Institute’s Centre of the Cell, as well as other universities and informal science learning sites around the world.

Researchers explored differences in how much visitors reported that they learned from their experience of an exhibit and their interest in the exhibit topic. They then looked at whether these factors differed based on whether the participant interacted with a youth educator (aged 14-18 years old), an adult educator (19+ years old), or only interacted with the exhibit itself.

Some key results

  • Young visitors (5-17 years old) who interacted with a youth educator reported greater interest and learning than those who only interacted with the exhibit itself
  • Participants in middle childhood (9-11 years old) answered more questions correctly when they interacted with a youth educator, compared to those who interacted with the exhibit alone or were assisted by an adult educator
  • Adult visitors who interacted with a youth educator reported greater interest and learning than adult visitors who interacted with only the exhibit and adult visitors who interacted with an adult educator.

This research shows that sites such as Centre of the Cell can play an important role in engaging the public with STEM. It could also potentially encourage people to pursue a STEM career in the future.

Read the full results

More information

  • Research paper: Mulvey KL, McGuire L, Hoffman AJ, Goff E, Rutland A, Winterbottom M, et al. (2020) Interest and learning in informal science learning sites: Differences in experiences with different types of educators. PLoS ONE 15(7): e0236279. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236279.
  • Find out more about Centre of the Cell at the Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London.