Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

"Science Isn't Just What We Learn in School": Interaction Rituals That Value Youth Voice in Out-Ofschool-Time Science

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

"Science Isn't Just What We Learn in School": Interaction Rituals That Value Youth Voice in Out-Ofschool-Time Science

Article excerpt

Introduction

In a video they created, Shanice and Kelly--both youth members of Cartier Community Centre's teen program--describe science as follows:

Shanice: (left of screen): Science isn't just what we learned in school. It's cell phones and relationships.

Kelly: (right of screen): Bless!

Shanice: I found out science isn't just about resistors by having discussions in [ConvoClub].

Kelly: What???

Shanice: Yeah!

Kelly: As a group we discussed that it's not just boring formulas.

Shanice: Then we interviewed other members of [Cartier] to find out what they thought of science.

(TRANSIVideo)

The girls delivering the introduction in a video they created about science use a vernacular and body movement that is typical among the youth at Cartier Community Centre. Throughout the introduction to the video, these youth laugh and move about comically, indicating a desire to entertain. The film then proceeds to various clips of young girls interviewing boys at the community centre about science.

This video clip description demonstrates an example of youth's positive orientation to a project designed in an afterschool conversation club, ConvoClub, for teenage girls. The introduction to this video demonstrates one of the many examples of the ways youth voice and positive emotional energy were generated through engagement in youth interest-driven science. However, the brief references to cell phones, relationships, and resistors in the introduction to the film also demonstrate the limited content that the youth worked with throughout the activity and how some of the language they rely on signifies their relationship to science. In this article, I will unpack the various ways in which the youth in this program engaged in video projects, and I provide an analysis of the benefits and pitfalls of using primarily self-directed video methods as a means to value youth voice in conversations about science.

Lee and Anderson (1993) have suggested that interactions between cognitive, motivational, and affective factors can influence youth's participation in science, and Seiler (2001) has demonstrated that science based on youth's interests has the potential to lead to high levels of youth engagement in science. Out-of-school-time (OST) science programming has the potential to create environments where youth can engage in scientifically oriented activities that are connected to their persistent interests (Polman & Hope, 2012). These informal spaces provide opportunities for youth to be positioned as leaders in science through engagement in science that includes youth's diverse ways of knowing (Calabrese Barton, 1998). Broadened perspectives of science can create opportunities for youth to begin to see themselves as insiders to science and encourage them to "make connections between their lives, experiences, values, beliefs and science" (Calabrese Barton, 1998, p. 380). These connections can be sites of engagement for youth to express their own voices and begin to situate themselves in emotionally positive ways in science.

This research was designed to explore informal methods to engage youth in science via conversations, video production, and storytelling. Previous research exploring youth's informal engagement in science has identified mini-documentary making as a method by which youth may learn to use their voices and express themselves using imagery, words, movement, and music that is meaningful to them. O'Neill (2010) has shown that storytelling through video can be a powerful tool that encourages youth to create a sense of ownership and engagement with science. Similarly, Furman and Calabrese Barton (2006) have demonstrated that video-making projects can provide opportunities for youth to employ multiple forms of expression (acting, singing, dancing, showing meaningful art, or interviewing) to communicate meaningful understandings of science. …

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