The Sci-Dentity project is a 3-year, NSF-funded grant based at the University of Maryland, College Park. In this research project, we are creating an after-school program for inner-city, middle school youth in Washington DC Public Schools (DCPS) where students will create science inspired stories with different media (e.g. graphic novels, short stories etc.).
A main focus of our research will be to explore how science fiction and other creative narrative projects can be designed and used to help young people imagine the exciting ways that science impacts us as human beings and shape who we are. The project goal is also to explore the factors that may encourage under-represented youth to incorporate scientific ideas into their evolving identities as students, individuals, and future learners.
A second major component of this work is the context of school libraries. The after-school programs will be run in partnership with school librarians and library/media programs in DCPS. We will explore how school libraries – which can connect students to a variety of formal and informal resources – can act as a safe hybrid space where young people can explore, play, and connect science to everyday imagination.
Finally, we are designing an online social network site (sci-dentity.org)where students will share and remix their science inspired stories, and create their own personas as science storytellers. We are exploring how to design online communities for young people to encourage sharing, remixing, and media creation in ways that can further their interest in STEM fields.
The Sci-Dentity project blends middle school libraries, online social networks, and science-fiction storytelling to explore how these learning environments and activities can better help young students to imagine futures in STEM. Our motivation is to understand the roles that school libraries, science fiction, and social media can play in helping middle-school students become interested in STEM, imagine themselves in STEM careers, and see themselves as interested-in-science people.