Key components of youth programs
Following is a list of ways young people have been involved with youth programs in science centers and museums. Included are both program types, such as after-school programs, and forms of engagement, such as cross-age teaching.
Explainers/interpretersyoung people who generally work in the institution's galleries and display areas involving visitors more directly with the exhibits by discussing concepts, answering questions, and providing assistance with the operation of exhibits.
Demonstratorsyoung people who work with mobile carts or stations in a specific area of the institution where they give "shows" or lead activities that highlight an exhibit.
Paid Positions for Youthan integral aspect of workbased learning programs, providing teens with incentive and motivation to stay involved.
Exhibit Developmentbrings teens together with museum exhibit staff. Teens provide fresh insight and enthusiastic assistance in conceptualizing, building, and testing exhibits.
Enrichment Classesfocus on examining and discussing a specific topic or issue. Topics range from scientific concepts to career exploration.
After-School Programsprovide structured activites, tutoring, and a safe haven for youth after classes let out in the afternoon duing the school-year.
Campsare theme-based, intensive, short-term programs, which usually take place for several hours every day over several weeks during the summer.
Creative Artsare activites such as drama, painting, writing, and computer graphics that immerse young people in other perspectives on their world and give them opportunities to express themselves and apply their knowledge.
Cross-Age Teachingpairs older, more experienced teens, with younger adolescents who may have recently joined the program. Older teens develop a sense of responsibility for their peers, and young teens gain role models for their participation in the program.
Clubsare open-ended and, often, less structured opportunities for younger teens to engage in hands-on enrichment projects.
Youth Leadership Developmentprovides teens with structured, hierachical experiences to explore their skills and talents as team members and agents of change in their communities.
Educational Goal Settingenhances both younger and older teens' awareness of the importance of education. Activities such as field trips, financial assistance workshops, and sessions with guest speakers encourage them to pursue post-secondary education.
Field and Lab Researchpairs teens with scientists from the institution or local universities in actual research projects during weekends and the summer.
Youth Advisory Groupgives youth a voice in their programs and in the institution. Generally, teens elect representatives from their group to work with youth staff to improve the program and represent them with institution management.
Communication Skill Buildingfocuses on a wide range of applications, from one-on-one interactions and oral presentation skills, to written projects and technological interfaces. These skills are cultivated through peer coaching, on-the-job practice, and workshops.
Career Planningengages the teens in learning about the world of work through workshops, guest speakers, field trips, discussions, mentoring, and job shadowing.
Mentoring by Adultspairs teens with adults who work in the msueum or a specific segment of the community. These adults model successful behaviors and support the teens in pursuing their goals.
The strongest programs also include:
Staff Developmenthelps other museum staff develop a better understanding of adolescent development and the role of adult mentors within the program.
Family Involvmentusually centers around an event that participants plan and implement to showcase their accomplishments for their families.
Relationships with Schoolsusually involve a collaborative relationship with teachers or guidance counselors who assist in recruiting and retaining young people in the institution's program.