“Science Journeys” will incorporate lessons learned from our previously funded SEPA based in DC Public
Libraries and out-of-school time (OST) programs in the DC Metro Area and New York State. This proposal
engages a novel and unique audience of learners: children and families who are navigating hospitalization and
complex care, an often stressful, high-intensity experience accompanied by loss of in-school instruction. We
will provide a hands-on inquiry-based STEM learning program modeled after our established art and science
curriculum to improve the physical, cognitive, and social development of children and their families. “Journeys”
participants will use their own health data to further their understanding of the body, what diseases affect kids,
and how diagnostic methods/tests, treatments, and healthcare teams help them get well.
Specifically, in collaboration with Child Life Specialists and Parent Advocates, our previously successful OST
curriculum will be expanded for children in grades K to eight who are receiving inpatient and outpatient care.
The program will use experiential learning and hands-on, age appropriate STEM activities that spark curiosity,
build STEM identity and literacy, improve physical and mental health, and support wellness for patients and
their families through the integration of Social and Emotional Learning concepts. “Journeys” will incorporate
robotics, system models, patterns, mechanisms, and computing concepts aligned to Next Generation Science
Standards. With a particular focus on engineering and math, participants will engage in critical exploration of
their own health data using interactive notebooks. Further, “Journeys” will introduce participants to varied
healthcare professions and clinical research/trials. In collaboration with the hospital’s broadcast media center,
participants will be exposed to multimedia experiences in patient rooms, classrooms, and play/common
Over the course of five years, we will partner with regional and national Child Life Departments to pilot and
implement the program in several hospitals. Collaborating with other national organizations/associations, we
will disseminate the program through workshops and annual meetings/conferences. We will provide
professional development training for Child Life Specialists, advanced practice nurses, educators, parents,
trainees, and hospital volunteers.
This hands-on program will engage children and families in meaningful learning opportunities during otherwise
unfilled gaps in schooling to preserve continuity of education; further, “Journeys” will build skills and provide
tools to improve their understanding of their personal health conditions, to improve engagement with their
healthcare team and increase agency in their health journey.