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Abstract

It is well documented that students' exposure to science in the middle school is critical for their later selection of science courses, yet instruction time and course offerings in science during the middle school years are often limited. Out-of-School Science Experiences with funds from the National Science Foundation (DISE No. 07872) produced five short science courses intended for children in middle school grades (6, 7, and 8) and their parents that supplement normal science instruction based on topics that are integral to traditional science teaching. The courses were offered through Community Education programs and through informal science learning centers (e.g., zoos, museums, and planetariums). An added strength of the program is that it employs the family as a motivator and reinforcer in a cooperative learning venture. The study reported here is an attempt to determine participant reaction two to three years after having taken the courses, to the course experience, the influence that the courses had on subsequent learning behavior, and the relationship between parents and children.