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Working with Teens in Science Centres

Young people in their teenage years stand out in ways that classify them as a cultural group in their own right. While there is variance from country to country and culture to culture, teens universally have unique ways of understanding the world around them, interacting within the social context where they live and challenging our comfort zones when they are in our science centres and museums. While these young people and their education are critical to our future, in many countries, regardless of development status, our schools are failing them. Economic, social and political forces place additional stress on this age group. Science centres and informal learning settings can and do play an important role in reducing the barriers to achievement in science and technology and offer proven models that demonstrate successful strategies that can be adapted to different traditions.

Instead of taking a brief look at a few successful programs, this session will present a broad and strategic approach to working with teens as a cultural sub-group in all our science centres. The session combines two formats: the first part is a pecha kucha in which the presenters will briefly explain how they have been approaching teenagers and point out what worked and what did not. The second part of the session is a round table discussion during which all participants brainstorm about criteria for good and useful projects and topics that matter for teenagers. While this age group is often a target audience for the mission of our science centres, too often it is easier to create separate outreach programs for teens rather than include them in the mainstream of our centres. Success requires leadership. If we really aim to be inclusive, it takes everyone from the executive and board level to the staff on the front line to expand our comfort zone and to fully engage what it takes.

Session speakers