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Feature Story | Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne expands its digital education and outreach presence into STEAMville and Instagram

New channels will link Argonne to local and national STEM education communities.

Argonne National Laboratory is expanding its digital presence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education with two channels aimed specifically at students and teachers: STEAMville and a new education-focused Instagram account. These new virtual programming initiatives, led by the laboratory’s Educational Programs and Outreach (EDU) department, will connect EDU and Argonne to STEM-driven students, teachers, and communities in Chicagoland and beyond.

Online social networks are a big component of how students and schools interact today,” said Argonne Educational Programs and Outreach (EDU) outreach lead Jessica Burgess. While other parts of the laboratory have used digital platforms before, this is a relatively new area for EDU, and we’re excited to dive into the field. By stepping into digital platforms, we [EDU] can advance STEM learning to new audiences and influence the STEM growth of more students than ever before. And at the same time, these networks expose us to new perspectives on STEM learning that we can use to further develop our interactive programs.”

Argonne joining us [STEAMville] is a big leap forward for everyone, as it creates the opportunity to reimagine Argonne as a national educator. STEAMville allows Argonne to extend its reach and connection to young people across multiple states.” — Nichole Pinkard, Northwestern University

One of the new platforms being explored by EDU is STEAMville, a combination of a social learning network and a learning management system. Northwestern University has developed the network over the course of a decade to give schools, students, and science organizations their own virtual space to share and utilize STEM activities. This creates a rich catalogue of STEM programming that individuals and institutions can use and apply to their own programs, while also letting different groups and individuals interact with each other.

STEAMville closes the learning gap by providing kids with 24/7 STEM learning opportunities, so they can engage in STEM anytime, anywhere — whether they’re at school or home for the summer,” said Nichole Pinkard, an associate professor at Northwestern who has been closely involved in STEAMville’s development. Argonne joining us is a big leap forward for everyone, as it creates the opportunity to reimagine Argonne as a national educator. STEAMville allows Argonne to extend its reach and connection to young people across multiple states.”

Using Instagram, Argonne Educational Programs and Outreach can spread news about our STEM opportunities for students across a wide STEM community beyond the lab. (Image by Argonne/Educational Programs and Outreach.)

In addition, EDU now has its own Instagram page. Although Argonne National Laboratory has maintained an Instagram account for years, EDU’s separate social media account will allow it to more personally connect with audiences and inform them about EDU opportunities — and for some, introduce Argonne and its research. Furthermore, this account will build ties with other youth-serving STEM institutions in the Chicagoland youth area by providing an educational social media presence in addition to their main channels. This in turn will increase EDU’s presence in the Chicagoland out-of-school learning community.

The content on EDU’s Instagram page will focus on EDU programming such as application/registration deadlines for future programs, and updates on current programming in the form of participant spotlights,” explained Argonne EDU Outreach coordinator Brandon Pope. This will include highlighting undergraduate research interns and Chicagoland teens participating in our Argonne Teen Advisory Council (ATAC).”

For teachers and students who are interested in STEM but do not usually look at things related to Argonne, EDU’s Instagram page will act as a friendly virtual introduction to the lab and Educational Programs,” Pope said. Through these new outreach initiatives, EDU can create new ways to communicate with our audiences  — both youth and adults — and welcome them into our STEM education community.”

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.