National Study Highlights That Visits to Science Centers Can Best Predict Youth and Adult Interest in Science

Three Science Centers from Across the Country Highlight the Need for Increased Support of Informal Science Learning

Phoenix, April 03, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Arizona Science Center, along with The Franklin Institute and the California Science Center, released the results from their national research study, which found that visits to science centers were the only type of science learning experience that consistently inspired both youth and adult interest in science. The Multi-Institutional Science Center Effects Study (MISCES), conducted by the Institute for Learning Innovation, sampled more than 4,500 youth and adults from the Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas to better understand the settings and resources that inform how youth and adults engage with science.

“The MISCES study shows us how science and technology centers can play a critical role in creating a STEM literate society,” said Chevy Humphrey, chief executive officer of Arizona Science Center. “While schools are one important part of the equation of how students learn science, science centers can provide the rest of that solution, equipping students, parents, and teachers with the opportunities to bring science to life.”

MISCES built on decades of previous research, assessing how visits to science centers compare with other types of learning experiences that include: attending in-school science classes, using the Internet for science, watching science-focused television shows, and reading science-related books and magazines. The research team found that out-of-school, free-choice learning experiences are critically important in the development of youth and adult interest in science. Science centers are best positioned to offer these experiences in hands-on, interactive settings, enabling all learners to explore topics that are of greatest interest to them.

“This study is an expansion of research work, conducted over the last 20 years in collaboration with Dr. John Falk, investigating the California Science Center’s impact on communities in the Los Angeles area,” indicated Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center. “Including additional partner sites for the current study enables us to generalize research findings to the entire field.” 

This study offers a path forward to widespread public science literacy, emphasizing the need to expand beyond a focus on in-school science education to include out-of-school learning experiences, which together can inform a strong, sustained interest in science. 

“Out-of-school, free-choice learning opportunities are indispensable when it comes to sparking the curiosity of adults and children alike,” said Larry Dubinski, president and CEO of The Franklin Institute. “With STEM driving our culture and economy forward, the MISCES study stands as yet more evidence of what so many of us know to be true—science centers are crucial to creating citizens that are well-versed in science and technology topics and ready to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Arizona Science Center, The Franklin Institute, and the California Science Center are following that path, developing a holistic approach that ensures youth and adults across the country have both the formal and informal opportunities to explore and engage with science.

“Our businesses, schools, and policymakers are striving to increase interest and skills in science among all Americans,” said John Falk, the executive director of the Institute for Learning Innovation and the lead author of the study. “It is essential that we give greater attention to science centers and the informal, free-choice learning opportunities that they uniquely offer.” 

The MISCES Study was supported in part by funding from the Noyce Foundation and the National Science Foundation.


About Arizona Science Center

The mission of Arizona Science Center is to inspire, educate and engage curious minds through science. The Center, located at 600 E. Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, features more than 300 hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, the state-of-the-art Dorrance Planetarium and the five-story screen Irene P. Flinn Theater. CREATE at Arizona Science Center®, adjacent to the main building, is the newest addition. This 6,500 square foot community maker space provides workshops, including 3D printing, laser cutting, microcontrollers, woodworking and sewing. The Center also offers various programs for all ages. Programs include Camp Innovation, Teen Science Scene, Professional Development and Learning for Educators, and adults-only Science with a Twist. For further details, please visit

You can also follow Arizona Science Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About The Franklin Institute

As the most visited museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a top-five tourist destination in the City of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is one of the leading science centers in the country, and serves as both a prominent educational and cultural resource, and as an anchor of the local economy. Science and technology have the potential to solve some of the most critical issues of our time, to improve our lives, and to inspire our curiosity about the world around us. Every day The Franklin Institute provides resources that help people to connect with science and technology in creative ways that resonate with learners of all ages and backgrounds. The Institute directly reaches more than 1 million people each year with informal learning experiences that engage students, adults, and families. Though its historic museum is a central learning space, the Institute has evolved to provide people with educational resources in their own neighborhoods through hands-on activities in classrooms, workshops in libraries, community centers, and other settings, and through ways to interact online. Since 1824, The Franklin Institute has pursued its commitment to making these resources available to as many people as possible throughout the mid-Atlantic region. For further details, please visit

You can also follow The Franklin Institute on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About the California Science Center

The mission of the California Science Center is to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone by creating fun, memorable experiences, because it values science as an indispensable tool for understanding our world, accessibility and inclusiveness, and enriching people’s lives. The California Science Center is a world-class educational resource with hands-on, interactive exhibits and an array of model education and outreach programs. A national and international leader in science education and informal learning, in operation since 1950 as the California Museum of Science and Industry, the California Science Center incorporates a dynamic museum with free general admission, robust educational programming including a professional development center for educators and a neighborhood TK-5 (transitional kindergarten through 5th grade) elementary school, to improve public understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Located in an economically challenged and ethnically diverse neighborhood just south of downtown Los Angeles, the Science Center is open general admission free, seven days a week, 362 days per year. Since opening in 1998, it has welcomed more than 33 million guests with an annual average of 2.3 million over the last five years, including more than 400,000 students from school or youth groups, making the Science Center the 9th most visited museum in North America. For further details, please visit

You can also follow the California Science Center on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Institute for Learning Innovation

The Institute for Learning Innovation is an independent not-for-profit organization, based in Oregon, working at the intersection of research, practice, and policy. We believe that a broader definition of learning, one that is lifelong and free-choice, can offer solutions to many of the critical cultural, environmental, economic and social problems facing institutions and communities in today’s changing world. For further details, please visit







A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


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