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Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Gail Jones’ FAME Project Honored with Partnership Award from North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center

A group of children conduct a science experiment

The Families and Museums Exploring (FAME) project, led by NC State College of Education Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Gail Jones, has been recognized by the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center with a Partnership Award.

The Partnership Award recognizes North Carolina organizations whose innovative partnership supports the advancement of science, mathematics and technology education. Begun in 2016 with a grant from the National Science Foundation, the FAME project created partnerships between the Friday Institute and three local museums — Marbles Kids Museum, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences — to engage families in STEM activities and encourage childrens’ interest in science, technology and mathematics.

“This FAME project has been an amazing opportunity to work with families and our local museums. We have learned so much from our work together while also supporting the interests and career aspirations of youth in our community,” Jones said. “This has been the most valuable program that I’ve done in my life. We know that we’ve made a significant impact on a whole series of variables that influence career aspirations.” 

Through the Family Science Club at Marbles Kids Museum, FAME has introduced children in third and fourth grade to a variety of different STEM careers through monthly sessions, often held in conjunction with other STEM events at the museum. 

Children are required to attend with at least one parent or guardian, and siblings are welcome to participate in the STEM activities as well. This is important, Jones said, because research shows that the extent to which families value science or see science as useful can impact both a student’s desire to pursue a STEM career as well as improve their self-efficacy and confidence for engaging in science. 

Jones said data shows that families who participated in the FAME project saw changes in the degree to which they valued science, the degree to which their children saw science as important to their future and the amount of time they spent engaging in science-related activities at home.

“One of the things our research has shown is that people who go into science often, in their childhood, either know somebody who’s engaged in science or knows someone who does science for leisure. Believe it or not, career decisions are made in elementary school. If you wait until high school, it’s often too late to actually impact someone’s career decision,” she said. 

You can learn more about the partnership in the video below: