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2023 NSF AISL Awardee Meeting: Concurrent Sessions

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This page provides information about the 2023 AISL Awardee Meeting concurrent sessions. Concurrent sessions are a way for attendees to learn, collaborate, and share their experience on topics about equity in informal STEM education.

Learn more about the AISL Projects presenting at the Concurrent Sessions.
Return to the main page for the 2023 NSF AISL Awardee Meeting Agenda.




Concurrent Session 1

Workshop: Reclaiming STEM Identity 

Speakers: Evelyn Valdez-Ward and Rob Ulrich, Reclaiming STEM Institute

Session Description: Delve into the heart of your STEM identity in this interactive session. Through self-reflection and group discussions, participants will unravel the facets that shape their connection to STEM. Explore how personal experiences, perceptions, and community interactions mold your unique identity. Engage with fellow learners to share and learn from diverse perspectives, gaining valuable insights for navigating the dynamic landscape of STEM. Join us in this journey of self-discovery and community connection, as we forge a deeper understanding of our roles in the world of STEM.

Workshop: Changing Culture and Your Role In the Disruption

Speakers: Daniel Aguirre, Pueblo

Session Description: How do we move beyond performative solidarity and advance inclusion in practice, not in promise? When working towards shifting organizational culture and personal growth, it can be difficult to know where to begin, what your personal role is, and what progress can look like. During our time together, we will discuss barriers that hold inequities in place and approaches to move past them. This session will offer tools that help develop instincts to identify, name, and dislodge inequities.

graphic illustration: communities of practice

Workshop: Communities of Practice 101

Speakers: Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement

Description: During this interactive workshop, participants will share their challenges, hopes, and expertise related to equity in informal STEM education. Via a series of small group conversations and facilitated debriefs, participants will leave the session having shared their perspectives on how future REVISE Center programming can most effectively support their needs. Participants can expect to connect with others and identify shared areas of interest.


Round Table: Intersectionality and Engaging with the Disability Community

Speakers:  Kareemah Batts, Adaptive Climbing Group and Lisette Torres-Gerald, REVISE/TERC

Session Description: What are the barriers to folx without the lived experience of people with a disability as educators and colleagues? How can we be intentional and sustainable in our planning around the work around and engaging in STEM Learning?

We are STILL HERE, Amplifying Indigenous Languages and Knowledges in STEM

Speaker: Tiffany Smith, AISES (Advancing Indian Science and Engineering Society)

Session Description: Due to the tumultuous history of colonists’ seeking to “save the man and kill the Indian,'' Indian education was created to assimilate Indigenous peoples and strip us of our cultures, languages and traditions. Consequently, Indigenous peoples still have a distrust of westernized educational systems. As sovereign nations, we exercise our self-determination to take care of our own tribal peoples. WE ARE STILL HERE, thanks to the resilience and wisdom of our ancestors. Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith (2012) asserts that “the past, our stories local and global, the present, our communities, cultures, languages and social practices – all may be spaces of marginalization, but they have also become spaces of resistance and hope” (p. 4). Our connection to place – to include the land, waters, and cosmos – is one which is unmatched as first peoples. Our relationships and commitment to building up our nations give us strength, and unique strengths in STEM fields, particularly. Ignorance around Indigenous peoples and deficit statistics continue to harm our communities today. Changing the narrative by amplifying our words, and our stories, the presenter will share the problem with the “American Indian asterisk” in statistics, and ways in which Indigenous scholars are combating these through a decolonizing lens and bringing our gifts to the STEM fields. As a Tsalagi and Mvskoke scholar who has employed Indigenous methodologies in her own research toward liberation, I will share how our epistemologies and methodologies are a gift to the westernized ideologies guiding STEM fields and careers.

Concurrent Session 2

Workshop: Challenges to Equity, How to Navigate Pushback to Your Work

Speakers: Evelyn Valdez-Ward and Rob Ulrich, Reclaiming STEM Institute and Sunshine Menezes, University of Rhode Island, Karen Peterson, National Girls Collaborative Project

Session Description: Although the emphasis and focus of equity in informal STEM education efforts has provided novel insights into research, practice, and evaluation, it has also faced critique and pushback. The sensitivity to equity has resulted in unique challenges to projects in diverse geographical regions. Join us for an enlightening session focused on co-developing strategies to support ISE projects as they enact their commitment to equity in their work. Participants will gain invaluable insights from PIs and community members who have braved the challenges of championing diversity, equity, and justice in environments where such efforts may face resistance. This panel discussion includes a candid exploration of real-world experiences, offering practical takeaways for fostering inclusivity in even the most resistant climates. Participants will learn from and connect with those at the forefront of equity.

Workshop: Courageous Reflection, An exploration and interrogation of Community Engagement

Speaker: Daniel Aguirre, Pueblo

Session Description: The state of the world requires courageous leadership with the will to set aside personal and organizational ego to interrogate how we partner with communities, especially those actively being marginalized. Inclusion in practice requires slowing down so that we may move faster, together. During this conversational and intensive workshop, we will explore and unpack language, history, and assumptions through sincere and vulnerable reflections. This session aims to model how one can reflect with sincerity and lean into making the changes required to move away from harmful practices that prevent meaningful growth from taking hold and deep relationships from forming.

Illustration: Disrupting Bias in Research through Intergenerational and Community Methods - Exploring Migrant Narratives in Climate Change Research

Workshop: Disrupting Bias in Research through Intergenerational and Community Methods - Exploring Migrant Narratives in Climate Change Research

Speakers: Amaris Alanis-Ribeiro, Hispanic Access Foundation, & Katia Pilar Carranza, Equity and Sustainability

Session Description: In this workshop, participants will receive a brief introduction to a community science research project on climate migration and how researchers actively centered the community members to ensure trauma-informed and community-driven science that facilitates intergenerational learning and resilience. We facilitated art and nature workshops with the community to support intergenerational learning, community building, and participatory research that would help advance the local narrative of climate migration. Participants will engage in hands-on activities to unpack bias, use trauma informed design approaches, and refine research questions and audiences for equitable approaches. These exercises can be applicable in research, community engagement, and communication strategies across science and non-science organizations.

Digital Technologies, Gaming, & Computational Thinking

Session Description: What do gaming, computational thinking, culturally relevant music, and cryptography clubs have in common? They are all going to be part of the perspectives shared at this session on digital technologies and how to leverage them to help foster interest and engagement in STEM. Presenters will share strategies, resources, and approaches to engaging with youth.

    Youth Panel: Neurodivergent Learners' Perspectives on Co-Design, Their Roles, and Its Importance  

    Session Description: Guided by the ethos “nothing about us without us”, the EdGE team at TERC has been working with neurodivergent co-designers to create inclusive informal STEM learning experiences. As part of this AISLproject, EdGE designers and researchers and Landmark College learners co-designed the VR STEM game Europa Prime, helping to shape all aspects of the experience, including gameplay and aesthetics, and ensuring the sensory, attention, and social aspects were appropriate for a broad audience of learners. Another group of co-designers has been working on a museum maker experience that introduces youth to the brain and to simple BCI devices that allow them to build interactions with signals from the brain. Both projects aim to increase the number of neurodivergent youth aware of and interested in STEM and careers in STEM. 

    In this Youth Panel, you’ll hear directly from some of the neurodivergent learners who have been involved in these co-design processes.  

    Diverse Approaches to Rural Engagement

    Session Description: This presentation will focus on the barriers and creative strategies that researchers experienced and developed in trying to engage rural youth in research. Participants will learn about three different projects all focused on the experience of rural youth and families with approaches as varied as computational thinking, outdoor recreation economy, and virtual reality.


    Concurrent Session 3


    Beyond Broadening Participation visual graphic

    Workshop: Beyond Broadening Participation

    Speakers: Evelyn Valdez-Ward and Rob Ulrich, Reclaiming STEM Institute

    Session Description: This workshop is centered around the Academic Wheel of Privilege. This innovative model dissects twenty identity types across seven crucial categories, revealing the complex interplay of privilege within academia and research settings. As we explore the concentric rings, participants will gain profound insights into their roles within projects and the broader academic landscape. Participants will learn to navigate workspaces with heightened self-awareness, understand the nuanced ways in which our identities influence their contributions, and work towards more inclusive and impactful academic collaborations.




    REVISE Listening Session: Building a Community of Community Practioners 

    Speakers: Selene Gonzalez-Carillo, REVISE/Witarita, Diane Miller, REVISE/Detroit Zoological Society, Verónika Núñez, Adelante Mujeres 

    Happily Ever After: Bringing a Project to Closure

    Speakers: Martha Merson and Andee Rubin, TERC; Amanda Bastoni, CAST; Jessica Roberts, Georgia Institute of Technology

    Session Description: This panel is designed as a catalyst for discussing the end game of an AISL funded project. Over the course of a couple years, plans can change. Resources intended for dissemination may have been deployed on other aspects of the project. With perspectives from different PIs, the session will focus on how AISL project leaders can bring their important project work to closure

    Session Slides

    Community-Based Research & Partnerships 

    Session Description: This session will showcase four projects and delve into how to cultivate and sustain authentic community partnerships. Presenters will discuss place-based storytelling, co-creating alongside the community, and strategies for recruiting and retaining program participants.

    Family STEM Learning in Dynamic Ways & Contexts

    Session Slides

    Session Description: Food science, equity in engineering, prison partnerships, and texting - you do not want to miss this session! Presenters will share a diverse array of perspectives on family learning in STEM as well as strategies, activities, and approaches to transformative engagement.

    Indigenous Voices on Multiple Ways of Knowing in STEM

    Session Description: Join us for an Indigenous led session that will highlight AISL projects that focus on how to best work with local tribal communities and reckon with living in a system that has a history of racism and colonization embedded in rituals of daily living and thought. Presenters will share insights into their approach of bringing the two knowledges together for increasing Indigenous STEM representation while concurrently celebrating contributions from Western knowledge.

    Concurrent Session 4

    Ask A Community Organizer graphic illustration


    Ask a Community Organizer: Building Equitable, Trustful & Sustainable  Relationships

    Speakers: Daniel Aguirre, Pueblo Collab, Selene Gonzalez-Carillo, REVISE/Witarita 

    Session Description: Grassroots organizing, relationship building, and community engagement practitioners hold direct knowledge for how transactional and at times, harmful, scientific research and outreach can be. During this session, you will have an opportunity to hear valuable lessons two organizers have earned in their careers and how you may be able to avoid some difficult lessons. Attendees will have an opportunity to workshop some of the existing challenges you may be facing or discuss a planned approach for your own upcoming community facing efforts

    Fishbowl Discussion: Considerations, Challenges, and Successes for Equitable Scaling

    Speakers: Stephen Alkins, REVISE/TERC, Tara Cox, National Girls Collaborative Project, Emily Early, National Girls Collaborative Project; Erin Stafford, Education Development Center; April Caldwell, Girls Inc., NYC

    Session Description: Scaling informal STEM education (ISE) programs is a complex undertaking and the focus of many AISL projects, both past and present. Yet, most knowledge and frameworks for scaling are derived from research in formal school settings and do not consider the unique opportunities and challenges of the informal STEM learning landscape, especially regarding equity. Join this critical conversation by participating in a moderated fishbowl discussion to consider principles for equitable scaling and share how they align with or challenge your projects and work.

    Evaluating Equity: Measuring Impact of Equity-Oriented Efforts

    Speakers:Evelyn Valdez-Ward & Rob Ulrich, Reclaiming STEM Institute

    Session Description: Participants will explore how to apply the culturally relevant evaluation approach in their own programs, acknowledging their inherent limitations and explore alternative methodologies. This workshop offers an opportunity for participants to refine their approach in measuring the impact of equity-oriented initiatives, and center their participants needs. Participants will gain invaluable insights and practical tools to advance their organization's commitment to inclusivity and social justice through evaluation methods

    STE(A)M Blending the Arts and Science Engagement

    Session Description: Come to this session to join four presenters in exploring strategies and experiences in blending the arts in STEM through dance, physics, digital notebooks, and pop-up maker spaces. Presenters will share how embracing a diversity of approaches can lead to more creative problem-solving, improved decision-making, and a richer project experience overall. Participants are welcome to share successes and pitfalls that may support others in developing inclusive engagements.

    Cultivating Black & Brown STEM Identity

    Session Description: Come to this presentation which will showcase three different perspectives on how the experiences of black and brown youth shape their STEM identity. In this session presenters will discuss how STEM programs are engaging youth of color and how these experiences can also be leveraged for reducing barriers to college admission. The session will also explore how youth voice is positioned in crafting STEM programs in storytelling and explore the development of math identities.

    Decolonizing Science? Film for Dialogue

    • Kendall Moore, Amelia Moore, University of Rhode Island

    • Martha Merson, TERC

    Session Description: "Decolonizing Science?" is the working title for a feature length documentary about western science, with its logics rooted in colonization, and how some aspects of that are being dealt with in places such as museums, etc. The film shows how faculty and staff at museums, archives, universities, and other institutions are reckoning with collections, naming, and other traces and structures based on racist ideas and extractive practices. During the session, the filmmaker and project team will talk about the premise of the film, show excerpts, and engage the audience in discussion. The project team is keen to hear reactions from the ISE community and to open critical discussions about how the film could be used around the country as a resource to jumpstart difficult conversations among colleagues, partners, and community members.