The Partnerships for Informal Science Education in the Community (PISEC) program connects CU Boulder volunteers with local K-12 students to engage in inquiry-based science activities in a playful, engaging, and welcoming environment. Working primarily with students from groups underrepresented in STEM, PISEC seeks to support students’ development of their own science identity and to cultivate and sustain students' interest in science by providing transformative and empowering experiences. Simultaneously, we offer valuable teaching, science communication, and leadership experience for the program volunteers. PISEC is committed to sustaining mutually beneficial partnerships with schools and community organizations, providing opportunities for CU mentors and K-12 students to develop relationships over the course of a semester.
Research on PISEC has demonstrated a number of benefits for students who participate, including gains in conceptual understanding of physics, increased sense of agency and ownership over their scientific learning, and increased interest in science, as well as benefits for the university volunteers, including increased content mastery, development of science communication skills, and a sense of belonging to a community.