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Informal science education refers to science education experiences that take place outside of a student's traditional classroom schooling. An excellent description of the importance of informal science education was provided in a 1983 publication from the National Science Foundation," Educating Americans for the 21st Century: A Report to the American People and the National Science Board." 

A key finding of this report is that: 

Much that affects the quality of formal education occurs outside the classroom and beyond the control of the school - a great deal of learning takes place unintentionally and unconsciously through casual reading and experiences. The process has been referred to as informal or experiential learning and offers an important opportunity for improvement in our overall educational system. Such opportunities are particularly helpful for the sciences and technology.

While out-of-school activities and informal learning provide a special enrichment value for the gifted and talented, they have an even greater significance for the average student. The child who regularly attends zoos, planetaria, and science museums, hiked along nature trails, and built model airplanes and telescopes is infinitely better prepared (and more receptive to) understanding the relevance of mathematics and learning about the physical and biological sciences.

Formal education must be supplemented by a wide range of activities that can reinforce the lessons of the classroom and lend meaning and relevance to the rigor and discipline of formal study.

Through the projects we support and this web site, the Clark Foundation works to promote a variety of informal science education resources to Utahns.


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