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Keywords:

  • civic action;
  • place-based understandings;
  • green energy;
  • socioscientific issues

Abstract

Socioscientific issues in connection to energy production, use or influence on climate change continue to be at the forefront of local, national, and global debates. The pressing nature of these issues requires citizens not only to understand relevant disciplinary knowledge but also to have the ability to use that knowledge to take action. This paper investigates the work of youth in an after school science program designed to examine socioscientific issues as they took educated action in science by putting on a “green carnival” for their peers and community members in relation to green energy issues. We approached this study as a critical ethnography working with youth as they planned and implemented a community event. In particular, we were interested in examining what taking educated action in and for one's community looks like and how youth leveraged community-based and scientific expertise to engage in this work. Our findings indicate that the intersection of place-based and science expertise provided an impetus for youth to take educated action in and for their community. They also indicate that merging place-based understandings with core science ideas resulted in youth creating a space to open dialog and alter the relationship between science and their community. We discuss the implications for science educators to consider the role of educated action in both informal and formal science learning spaces in order to foster civic action using scientific expertise. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 51: 286–314, 2014