Science and technology centers and museums, natural history museums, children’s museums, zoos, aquariums, nature centers, botanical gardens, planetariums, and other types of museums and cultural organizations play a vital role in stimulating public interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

However, this often-difficult work is largely dependent on the abilities of those working within the informal STEM learning field. Whether writing exhibit content or writing annual reports, leading tours or leading an institution, studying budgets or studying visitor experiences—informal STEM work requires specialized skills, knowledge, and more. It is rarely routine on a day-to-day basis and tasks often require problem-solving and creative thinking. In short, this work requires professional competencies

Enter the framework!

The Informal STEM Learning Professional Competency Framework is a tool for individuals, organizations, and academic programs to understand, plan, and advance their skills, knowledge, and capabilities:

  • Individuals can use the framework to assess their current competencies or identify competencies they want to develop.
  • Institutions can use the framework to plan staff professional development, consider staffing plans, or shape job descriptions.
  • Academic programs can use the framework to review curriculum, support student learning, or guide students as they consider courses or pursue internships.
How individuals can use the framework.
How institutions can use the framework.

Help us shape the future of our field

We are currently looking for professionals—and aspiring professionals—to improve the framework by participating in virtual and in-person opportunities like tool development workshops, focus groups, asynchronous feedback opportunities, and more.

We aim to engage more than 800 people working—or hoping to work—in informal STEM learning organizations to help us understand the skills the field requires today and to co-develop the most needed resources.

To ensure our work is relevant to a broad cross-section of informal learning organizations and professionals that engage the public in STEM, we need the perspective of a diverse array of people—and that includes YOU!

Let us know if you’d like to be considered by clicking below. Those selected will receive a stipend for their time. You can also opt-in to receive updates when new tools are released.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants 2215274 (active), 1514815, 1514884, 1514890, and 1515315. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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