Soledad Yao and Margaret J. Mohr-Schroeder

Abstract

Research has shown that exposure to a variety of STEM opportunities will have a long-term effect on individuals and the overall STEM education community (Wai, Lubinski, Benbow, & Steiger, 2010). While many opportunities for informal learning have historically existed within the science and history disciplines, such as museums, nature centers, libraries, and national parks (Fenichel & Schweingruber, 2010), there has been a lot of growth in comparable informal learning environments within STEM education (e.g., engineering, integrated STEM). Participation in informal learning environments allows K-12 grade students to delve deeper into STEM concepts, complementing STEM learning in their traditional school setting. In this chapter, we will review the literature on informal STEM learning and examine the effects these authentic learning experiences in the STEM disciplines will have on their interest and motivation towards STEM careers.