Archive: Detroit Zoological Society to Co-Lead New Informal STEM Learning Equity Resource Center

August 29, 2022

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) is putting equity back into STEM.

The DZS has been chosen to co-lead a new informal Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning equity resource center (ISL-ERC) for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advancement of Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program. The resource center is made possible through a $10 million grant over five years from the NSF, a valued partner on the project.

According to the grant proposal, the Center will advance equity within the informal STEM learning (ISL) field through diverse community building, resource sharing and the promotion of organizational change and transformative justice. Also leading the Center is TERC, a STEM education research and development nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and engaging learners through cutting-edge research, content and curriculum development, technology innovation, professional development and program evaluation.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this project,” said Diane Miller, DZS vice president of educational programming and co-principal investigator for the NSF grant. “Equity in ISL is so important to ensure the field is evolving and diverse. Everyone involved in this Center is dedicated to creating STEM education spaces that are welcoming for people of all demographics and backgrounds.”

The ISL-ERC will pick up the work the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education has been doing for almost two decades. In doing so, the new Center will promote life-long STEM learning, which occurs outside of the classroom and across multiple platforms.

Additionally, the Center aims to disrupt conventions and institutional barriers to transforming physical and digital ISL environments and make ISL more welcoming to marginalized communities. Collectively, the Center’s activities and resources will support multiple pathways for researchers, practitioners and learners to better engage and equitably access ISL experiences, pursue funding and cultivate career opportunities in STEM that engender STEM identity development and belonging for all.

“I’m excited to see how this Center grows over time,” Miller said. “We are still in the beginning stages of this project, but we are ready to begin and use this opportunity to make substantial, lasting change in the ISL field.”

In addition to the DZS, TERC and NSF, the following organizations will contribute to the Center: Digital Promise, Organic Oneness, CAST, Karyl Askew Consulting, Accessible Technology Services and an extensive multi-sector network of advisors.