Researching a New Pathway for Promoting Children’s Active Outdoor Science Exploration in Urban Settings


  • Marion Goldstein Education Development Center (EDC)
  • Lisa Famularo Research Matters
  • Jamie Kynn Education Development Center (EDC)
  • Elizabeth Pierson Education Development Center (EDC)



science, outdoors, technology, media, urban


To become robust scientific thinkers, children need meaningful opportunities to engage in science learning across a variety of contexts. Unfortunately, many children, especially those in urban settings and from low-income families, do not get the experiences needed to deepen their understanding of a broad range of scientific ideas, nor do they have consistent opportunities to engage in the practice of science. Informal and outdoor education programs offer a pathway to provide meaningful science learning experiences that prepare children for school and beyond, as well as offer health benefits of being physically active and outdoors. This paper discusses a federally funded initiative to develop a Toolkit and to research its promise for supporting children’s active, outdoor environmental science learning through the use of digital resources and hands-on activities. Findings showed that the Toolkit positively influenced participants’ behaviors and supported educators and parents in engaging children with focal science concepts and practices across a range of informal, outdoor contexts (e.g., local park departments, nature centers, school-based after-school programs with open green space).

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Author Biographies

Marion Goldstein, Education Development Center (EDC)

Marion Goldstein, Ed.D., is a Research Scientist at Education Development Center. Her work promotes developmentally appropriate uses of technology to support young children’s learning in preK-12 classrooms, at home, and in informal contexts. Her R&D efforts enhance low-income families’ access to high-quality learning opportunities, identify strategies to strengthen learning for all children, and contribute to the development of digital tools shown to enhance STEM learning and accommodate a variety of instructional needs. Dr. Goldstein holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. from New York University, and an Ed.D. in educational technology from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Lisa Famularo, Research Matters

Lisa Famularo, Ph.D., is a founding partner of Research Matters, LLC.  She is a seasoned education researcher who has focused her work on bridging the gap between research, policy and practice. Famularo is an expert in quantitative and qualitative research methods, assessment research, and research on educational programs and policies for special populations such as accessibility/accommodations for special education students, and issues impacting students from low-income, urban communities. She holds an M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from Temple University and a Ph.D. in Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation from Boston College.

Jamie Kynn, Education Development Center (EDC)

Jamie Kynn, M.A., M.S.W., is a Research Associate at Education Development Center. She uses her research as a platform to advocate for underrepresented groups and their experiences.  Her work examines access to education and social services for individuals across the lifespan, and her current projects concentrate on increasing equity within STEM education programs.  She has a background in social work, which informs her holistic approach to research, development, and evaluation. Ms. Kynn holds a B.A. and a B.S. from Florida State University, an M.A. from Central European University, and an M.S.W. from Rutgers University.

Elizabeth Pierson, Education Development Center (EDC)

Elizabeth Pierson, M.A., is a researcher at Education Development Center. Her research and evaluation work has two unique foci highlighting her diverse training and experiences: (1) informal science learning and (2) educational technology and international development. Through a varied array of projects, both domestic and overseas, Elizabeth’s work promotes access to high-quality learning experiences for youth in school and informal settings. Ms. Pierson holds a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.A. in International Education Development from Teachers College, Columbia University.


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