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Bradford senior lecturer awarded grant for informal science learning online

Published: Thu 8 Jan 2015
Bradford senior lecturer awarded grant for informal science learning online

Carlton Reeve, a senior lecturer in creative technology, is part of a team who has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to examine informal online spaces where youth may learn science "Affinity Spaces for Informal Science Learning: Developing a Research Agenda."

The total NSF grant is $114,979. The goal of the project is to better understand and utilize affinity spaces, which are online environments where youth can develop deep interest and engagement in specific topics and interact with others who share common interests.

The principal investor on the project is Richard Hudson, senior executive producer and director of science production at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul-Minneapolis. The other co-principal investigator on the new grant is Indiana University School of Education’s Sean Duncan, Assistant Professor of the learning sciences in the Department of Counselling and Educational Psychology.

The grant is part of the NSF’s Advancing Informal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Learning program, called Science Learning+, a partnership between U.S. and U.K. foundations. Its projects are designed to take transformational steps to inform, improve and advance the knowledge bases, practices and design of informal STEM learning experiences and environments. The long-term goals are to broaden participation in STEM and better understand, strengthen and coordinate STEM engagement and lifelong learning.

Alongside lecturing at the University of Bradford, Reeve studies game-based learning and directs ‘Play With Learning’, a media consulting organisation. He said: “We often forget that most learning takes place outside of formal education settings so this is a fantastic opportunity to explore how we can make more of those experiences.  I’m looking forward to working with some of the world’s leading experts to see how we can bring STEM education to life.”

“Online affinity spaces provide 24/7 access to like-minded thinkers and learners, which is crucial to the informal science community. Users can share and test hypotheses, gather data, debate results, and simply communicate with peers worldwide. Exploring how to better leverage affinity spaces will offer new connections for both informal science educators and students, and enrich the ways in which they view STEM—and themselves.”

“For this project, Carlton contributed valuable insights into games and learning, and made the critical connections with leading scholars in the UK who will work with us on the grant.” said Dr. Richard Hudson, Senior Director, Science Unit, National Productions, Twin Cities Public Television.  

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