Learners’ Perceptions of Participating in STEM Hands-On Activities in an Out-Of-School Community-Based Organization Program

This paper investigates the potential for STEM hands-on activities to support adolescents’ (5th and 6th grade) participation in STEM practices in an out-of-school community-based organization in an Arab town in Israel. In this study, we observed 4 hands-on activity sessions (total time = 395 minutes) at Al-Rowad for Science
and Technology, a community-based organization for STEM education. In addition, we conducted interviews
with the 10 participants to understand their perceptions of their learning processes and their perceptions of the activities. When prompted to describe the activities, procedures, outcomes, final products, and their learning process, learners responded in diverse ways. Our analysis reveals 3 findings: (a) These activities show potential for helping learners connect STEM practices to their daily lives; (b) learners have some misconceptions about science, art, engineering, and invention as disciplines, but also as a field of practice, even after engaging in out-of-school science activities; and (c) learners readily connect the STEM practices in the program with perceptions of science in their daily lives.

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