Eastern Michigan University, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum partner on new STEM initiative for Ypsilanti community

Collaboration seeks to show how STEM connects with students' everyday lives

YPSILANTI -  Eastern Michigan University and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum are establishing a formal partnership to develop authentic, relevant, and engaging science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities geared toward elementary-aged children and their families.

EMU professor Amy Flanagan Johnson
Amy Flanagan Johnson

The project, which is funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, is called “Engaging Children and Their Families in Authentic STEM Activities: A Cross-sector Partnership to Promote Equity in Informal Science Education.” It is supported through the "Partnership Champions: SENCER-ISE and Professional Development Through Mentoring to Enhance Learning Environments."

Eastern Michigan University Professor Amy Flanagan Johnson from the Department of Chemistry is leading the effort. Associate Professor of Library Services Sarah Fabian and STEM Librarian Kelly Grossman are senior staff on the project.

The project has three intended outcomes:

Develop and implement a formal partnership between EMU and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum to provide quality science education experiences for children and their families in the greater Ypsilanti community. The partnership will use stakeholder input from sources such as parents, school representatives, STEM content experts, and community librarians to inform and strengthen the impact of the collaboration.

A father and son enjoy an exhibit at the museum.

Develop and implement quality informal science education activities for the families in the community that help children recognize how STEM concepts connect to their everyday lives, and provide them with an authentic understanding of what STEM knowledge is and how it is developed.

Collect survey, interview, observation, and artifact data to determine how the activities and interactions that this partnership collaboratively designs and implements will impact children's interest in and understanding of STEM topics and the nature of science.

Professor Flanagan Johnson said, “All of us involved with the project are excited to begin working together, and we are committed to exploring ways to improve access to informal science education for children and their families in the greater Ypsilanti community.”

The partnership will incorporate input from local stakeholders including parents, teachers, school administrators, and nonprofit organizations to root the STEM activities in the lived experiences of local community members.

“The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is always looking to work with higher education in new and interesting ways,” said Nichole Wright, Public Programs and Volunteer Manager for the museum. “We are excited to begin a strong, ongoing collaboration with EMU to bring informal science education to the Ypsilanti Community.”

Flanagan Johnson added, “Current community concerns such as the soil and water contamination of the Water Street Redevelopment Area in Ypsilanti, the dioxane plume spreading through the groundwater of Ann Arbor, and the hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage that were spilled into the Huron River in Fall 2016 all provide authentic, local examples of how earth, life, and physical sciences intersect with engineering to impact our community’s quality of life.”

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.


January 12, 2017

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom