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National Science Education Leadership Association

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Volume 28 n1 - Phenomenology of Secondary Students’ Experiences in Out-of-School Time Science Research

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Abstract Out-of-school time (OST) science research can be an important part of a student’s decision to pursue a career in STEM. This article reports on the findings from a transformative phenomenological study of what secondary students experience while completing OST scientific research. The purpose of this study was to use an emic research lens to better understand the contexts and content of student experiences. We collected data from in-depth interviews with an ethnically diverse group of eight students who previously participated in science fairs, and five sponsors who supported science fair students. Major themes were found to be consistent through the student experiences, including opportunities to explore their own interests, deeply learn and apply science, and being supported by mentors and other professionals. The interplay of these themes seems to be critical to the experience as a whole. These findings hold implications for expanding out-of-school time science research opportunities for a more diverse group of learners.

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