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Increasing Learning and Efficacy about Emerging Technologies through Transmedia Engagement by the Public in Science-in-Society Activities: 1516684

Principal Investigator: Edward Finn
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): David Guston, Steve Gano, Ruth Wylie, Rae Ostman
Organization: Arizona State University

The range of contemporary “emerging” technologies with far-reaching implications for society (economic, social, ethical, etc.) is vast, encompassing such areas as bioengineering, robotics and artificial intelligence, genetics, neuro and cognitive sciences, and synthetic biology. The pace of development of these technologies is in full gear, where the need for public understanding, engagement and active participation in decision-making is great. The primary goal of this four-year project is to create, distribute and study a set of three integrated activities that involve current and enduring science-in-society themes, building on these themes as first presented in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, which will be celebrating in 2018 the 200th anniversary of its publication in 1818. The three public deliverables are: 1) an online digital museum with active co-creation and curation of its content by the public; 2) activities kits for table-top programming; and 3) a set of Making activities. The project will also produce professional development deliverables: workshops and associated materials to increase practitioners’ capacity to engage multiple and diverse publics in science-in-society issues. The initiative is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.

This project by Arizona State University and their museum and library collaborators around the country will examine the hypothesis that exposing publics to opportunities for interactive, creative, and extensive engagement within an integrated transmedia environment will foster their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), develop their 21st century skills with digital tools, and increase their understanding, ability, and feelings of efficacy around issues in science-in-society. These three distinct yet interlocking modes of interaction provide opportunities for qualitative and quantitative, mixed-methods research on the potential of transmedia environments to increase the ability of publics to work individually and collectively to become interested in and involved with science-in-society issues.

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