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California Academy of Sciences educates their network of after-school program leaders with Science Action Club

About California Academy of Sciences

Founded in 1853, the California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth. Home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof. Its mission is to explore, explain, and sustain life.

Key project features

  • Learner experience icon

    Learner experience

  • Performance improvement

    Performance improvement

  • Bespoke elearning

    Bespoke elearning

The challenge

Adapt leadership training and messaging for a growing program

Founded by the California Academy of Science, Science Action Club (SAC) is a nationwide out-of-school (OST) education program that leverages citizen science to address science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning goals to the next generation of critical thinkers and environmental stewards. To succeed at this goal, educators and activity leaders must be empowered to take students outdoors to investigate nature, contribute to authentic science research, and design strategies to protect the planet.
SAC originally trained activity leaders directly through in-person workshops, but as the program scaled up, there was an increasing need for consistent messaging and resources. It was clear that materials needed to be created so every educator who wanted to participate in the program could follow standardized activities with best practices for addressing STEM learning goals with youth members. 

The solution

Develop scalable training for activity leaders and educators

Based on the feedback from the surveys, interviews, and other interactions, along with the team’s experience with out-of-school time educators, Science Action Club collaborated with the Kineo design team to develop an online training user profile and high-level design document focused on two categories of online learners: novice educators and experienced educators.

A phone displaying the different types of birds a user can learn about

Science Action Club went through several iterations of the blended learning training before producing the current version in collaboration with Kineo. The current version is designed to address several issues that surfaced from SAC educator feedback. Two of those issues are related to educators’ difficulty navigating the course. Specifically, SAC educators found that there were too many required clicks and too many ways to get lost.

A tablet and phone displaying the different sections of the course

The Kineo-produced training instead uses Adapt, which maintains a high level of user interactivity within a single continuous page that guides SAC educators to advance with buttons sparingly and more strategically. Videos are embedded into the course for a more focused viewing experience, but content is still accessed directly from third parties to accommodate licensing and permissions.

A section of the course where the learners have to identify what the birds are

The results

Improved engagement from activity leaders to fuel a growing national presence

Overall, both the online and blended training approaches were received very well by OST educators. Activity leaders, in particular, reported feeling more prepared after the online training to lead SAC with youth, help youth connect with the natural world, and help youth build their STEM identities. 

Results among both activity leaders and trainers were significant with 99% increase in satisfaction and engagement, and found the training:

  • Beneficial for professional growth; 
  • Inspiring – increased their interest in teaching science;
  • Increased their enthusiasm for leading SAC, and;
  • It was helpful to exchange ideas with other educators at the ALT/ToT.

As a result of this collaborative project, SAC has grown its reach from just two clubs in San Francisco in 2011 to hundreds of clubs in more than 400 cities and towns across the country. Evaluation findings show significant levels of increased youth interest, engagement, and value of STEM.

“We are so grateful to Kineo for their creativity and commitment to quality! They approached every design challenge with enthusiasm and applied innovative solutions to help us produce courses that are fun, easy to use, and deeply relevant to the need of our educators all across the country.”

Laura Herszenhorn, Director of Expanded Learning and Youth Engagement