Detroit Zoological Society to co-lead new center for bringing equity to STEM education

What’s happening: The Detroit Zoological Society is celebrating its new leadership role in a national program that aims to bridge the equity and inclusion gap in STEM education. It was recently announced that the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), the nonprofit that operates the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak and the Belle Isle Nature Center in Detroit, has been named co-lead on a new informal Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning equity resource center (ISL-ERC) for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advancement of Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program.

What that means: According to the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), “Informal STEM education refers to lifelong learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) that takes place across a multitude of designed settings and experiences outside of the formal classroom.” The DZS-led resource center will work to advance equity within the informal STEM learning field; a $10 million grant from the NSF makes it possible.

How they’ll do it: The new resource center will focus on diverse community building, resource sharing, and promoting organizational change and transformative justice, disrupting the conventions of, and institutional barriers to, ISL.

Diane Miller, DZS vice president of educational programming and co-principal investigator for the NSF grant. (Photo: DZS)“I’m excited to see how this Center grows over time,” says Diane Miller, DZS vice president of educational programming and co-principal investigator for the NSF grant. “We are still in the beginning stages of this project, but we are ready to begin and use this opportunity to make substantial, lasting change in the ISL field.”

Partners: Co-leading the resource center with DZS is TERC, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit promoting equal access in the STEM field. Additional contributors include Digital Promise, Organic Oneness, CAST, Karyl Askew Consulting, Accessible Technology Services, and more.

What they’re saying: “I’m thrilled to be a part of this project,” Miller says. “Equity in ISL is so important to ensure the field is evolving and diverse. Everyone involved in this Center is dedicated to creating STEM education spaces that are welcoming for people of all demographics and backgrounds.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.