Megan Ennes ‘19PHD: Developing professional pathways for science museum education

A photo of Megan Ennes

Megan Ennes came to NC State after 10 years as a museum educator. During her time here, she has worked with Families and Museum Exploring (FAME) to help kids become scientists. Now, she’s taking the next step to instruct future museum educators.

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Name: Megan Ennes
Hometown: Valparaiso, Ind.
Field of Study: Ph.D in Science Education

Activities (Research or Extracurricular): Family STEM Interests, Museum educators’ self-efficacy.

Why I Chose Science Education:  I worked as a museum educator for 10 years and really wanted to help develop professional pathways for science museum educators. The STEM Education program at NC State was one of the few Ph.D. programs that included an informal science education track. After I met Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Gail Jones, I was sold on attending this program. It has been a wonderful decision.

My Next Steps: I want to continue my research on how to help increase the science interest and career aspirations of underrepresented youth through family programming. I also hope to help build a program for future science museum educators. Thankfully, my new position at the first Assistant Curator of Museum Education at the Florida Museum of Natural History, a college within the University of Florida, will help me achieve these goals.

What It Has Been Like Working With Families and Museums Exploring (FAME): FAME has been one of the most impactful programs I have ever participated in. The stories the families have shared with us about the value of this program still give me goosebumps every time I talk about it. I loved getting to see the different ways our museum partners engaged families in a wide range of STEM fields. I also enjoyed being able to engage with the families in different activities. For example, I got to help release a robin on the bird banding day.

Why FAME Matters: FAME helps build future generations of STEM professionals. We have spent more than 40 years targeting youth as individuals trying to increase the number of women and underrepresented people choosing to pursue STEM careers. However, the proportion of the people who work in STEM fields does not match the demographics of our country. FAME takes a systems approach and targets the whole family rather than just the youth. This helps to build a support system for the youth across their education and may help increase persistence in STEM. Additionally, we saw not only changes with the youth, but amazing changes with the parents and siblings as well.

My Favorite College of Education Memory: Oh, I have so many wonderful memories from my time at the College of Education. Much of it is related to travel. I have been fortunate to represent NC State in Jyväskylä, Finland, as we were developing our memorandum of understanding. I also traveled to Australia as part of my National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. While I was there, a fellow NC State College of Education student and I were traveling, and we ran into Neil DeGrasse Tyson. What a wonderful and random experience that was. The opportunities within the NC State College of Education are wonderful and far beyond what I imagined when I applied to the program.