Assessment of Early Elementary Student Learning of Science in an Informal Education Setting

Student Author(s)

Sarah Schuiling

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes; Professor Tod Gugino; Dr. Catherine Mader

Document Type


Event Date



The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of how challenging a science activity was perceived to be on an elementary student’s content mastery. The study was conducted in an informal science education setting (summer camps) at a small, private college in the Midwest. Classroom observations, student interview/focus groups, and student survey results indicate that when 2nd-3rd grade students like an activity and find it challenging, they learn more from it. Results showed that likableness trumps challenge. Those students who liked an activity and found it challenging learned equal or significantly more than those who found the activity only challenging. Moreover, if an activity was disliked, not much learning occurred at all. Children learned when the science activity was fun. Additionally, the effectiveness of different types of activities were uncovered -- the most surprising being videos. Evaluations suggest that although videos are engaging to children, they do not necessarily teach or encourage learning. Non-educational films can be used as supplementary teaching tools but by themselves are more for entertainment than learning. More detailed results and science camp activity illustrations are detailed in this poster.

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