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Are teens the most effective educators and explainers?

Explainers and educators are one of the most important assets you have to increase engagement and learning in your science centre. Could you make your educator team more effective by recruiting teenagers?

The STEM Teens project is evaluating the impact of teenagers as youth educators on visitors’ engagement and learning outcomes. Jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust, ESRC, and the National Science Foundation, the project is gathering data at a science centre, three STEM-focused museums, an aquarium and a zoo in the UK and US. In the first two years of the five-year study, the project has found significant evidence that suggests both adult and child visitors learn more factual science knowledge from interacting with a youth educator compared to an adult educator.

Join the session to hear this multidisciplinary panel discuss the potential benefits of recruiting teenagers as youth educators and the impact it can have on your organisation and visitors. The session will provide best practice examples, as well as examine the theoretical foundation and new evidence-based insights of the STEM Teens project.


Museum Manager
Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum

Session speakers

Education Program Coordinator
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
United States
Grace is an Education Coordinator at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, South Carolina. Grace received her Master in Science Education from the University of Pittsburgh and is currently studying toward a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. With almost 15 years of work in informal education with teens, and as a STEM Teens co-PI, she will provide information into the institutions and teen programmes involved in the STEM Teens project.
Goldsmiths, University of London
United Kingdom
Adam is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London and in July will be moving to the University of Exeter to become a Professor of Psychology there. He is a developmental psychologists who studies the social development and learning of children and adolescents in educational settings. He is the UK PI for the STEM Teens project funded by the Wellcome Trust and ESRC in the UK and the NSF in the USA. He will outline some of the initial questionnaire findings from the first year of the project, exploring the effectiveness of teen educators in informal STEM learning settings.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Goldsmiths, University of London
United Kingdom
Having earned a PhD in Psychology from Goldsmiths, University of London, Luke is now working as a postdoctoral research fellow on the STEM Teens project that this session will focus on. In this session, Luke will outline the key theoretical perspectives (drawing from social, developmental and educational psychology) that guide this work, as well as outlining the methods that are currently being used to explore the fascinating impact of youth educators in informal science settings.
STEM Teens Project Officer
Birmingham Museums Trust
United Kingdom
Zain is a full time employee of Thinktank Science Museum; a science learning centre based in Birmingham, UK. Having participated in the Thinktank Science and Heritage Career Ladder in 2012, Zain then went on to study physics at university and spend a year in industry before returning to Thinktank as STEM Teens Project Officer. Zain will share his experiences as a STEM Teen and the impact it has had on his development and career since participating in the program.