Publications & Research


Informal + Formal = Synergistic Learning Ecosystems

Document Type

Panel Discussion


National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) | National Conference in Atlanta, March 22-25, 2023

Publication Date



Education | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology


Imagine the powerful learning experiences that can result from synergistic learning ecosystems which represent the unique intersection between formal and informal science. Formal educators face a variety of challenges, some of which can be addressed by collaborations with informal science organizations. Informal environments are ideal for STEM learning as well as learner-centered interests and curiosities in science. What is needed to support STEM learning and the Science and Engineering Practices? How might informal and formal science institutions come together to support a STEM learning ecosystem, connecting youth to careers in science and providing meaningful, authentic science experiences? Join this panel of informal science educators to discuss how informal and formal science collaborations can have lasting, positive impacts on an individual’s STEM identity.


Brief description: This session provides an opportunity for NSTA members to start an important conversation about the intersection of informal and formal science education. There will be a panel of informal educators leading the discussion and sharing success stories about meaningful formal-informal collaborations.

One main takeaway: Participants will leave with an increased awareness and understanding of potential synergies between informal and formal science education organizations as well as a better understanding of NSTA’s Informal Science Division.