Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Projects with Promise

Vol. 25 No. 2

Science with Seniors: A Model Program for Senior Citizen-Centered STEM Outreach

May 19, 2020


While many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) outreach programs focus on children, relatively few efforts are dedicated to voting-age populations. These populations are important to reach because misinformation about science is ubiquitous and hard to discern, which harms informed voting on science-related issues. Our program Science with Seniors (SwS) addresses this critical gap by bringing current science research topics and news to the most dedicated voting demographic, senior citizens, through informal science presentations at local senior centers in the greater Chicago area. Through SwS, graduate students and postdoctoral associates have given more than 40 presentations over the last three years on a variety of topics ranging from climate change to gene therapy. Survey responses indicate that SwS has been successful in its aims: 90% agree that the program has increased their understanding of the presented topics and 92% would attend a similar program in the future. Given this positive feedback, SwS demonstrates a way to bring STEM outreach and accessible science knowledge to older voting populations, and a general program development methodology is outlined so that this model can be implemented elsewhere. Future work will focus on expanding the program to more locations, evaluating the long-term effects of this program on comfort with scientific topics, and making these presentations accessible online so that the conversation can continue beyond the program.