The Partnerships for Informal Science Education in the Community (PISEC) program facilitates community partnerships with local schools, connecting CU Boulder mentors with primary and high school students, largely those from groups underrepresented in STEM, to explore pathways to STEM in an engaging, welcoming, and fun environment. Our volunteers, known as "university educators" (UEs), receive comprehensive training in science communication, STEM pedagogy, and leadership, enabling them to function as effective peer mentors to the students they work with at PISEC sites. PISEC's focus on facilitating engaging, relational experiences means that student participants build STEM identities and engage in authentic scientific practice as they have fun exploring with their mentors.
PISEC is supported by the JILA Physics Frontier Center as part of the National Science Foundation's Broadening Impacts focus, and by the CU Physics Education Research Group and the Center for STEM Learning.
Alongside its programmatic aspect, PISEC supports a rigorous research agenda. In partnership with the CU Physics Education Research Group, PISEC researchers investigate aspects of informal physics education in the context of PISEC and beyond. Research topics include volunteer pedagogy, student participant identity and agency, impact of outreach on both volunteer communities and institutions, long-term impacts of informal STEM education programs, and more. PISEC partners with researchers at sites across the globe and is a member of the Informal Physics Education Research (IPER) network, expanding the frontier of research in informal STEM settings.
This website provides information about PISEC's philosophy, methods, research, and personnel, and provides resources for volunteers, student participants and their families, and teachers and adminstrators affiliated with PISEC partner sites.