Science & Society Research Group | Informal Science Learning: Exploring Education Outside the Classroom

Informal science learning is science education that happens outside the classroom, often in public places like museums and festivals. The Science & Society research group leads international research projects in this field and works especially closely with Science Gallery Dublin, one of the most important cultural institutions in the field of informal science education (Roche & Murphy, 2020). This collaboration has resulted in initiatives such as supporting facilitators of informal learning activities (Moore et al., 2020), encouraging professional learning (Roche et al., 2018), and arguing for inclusive non-formal science learning spaces (Brown, Roche, & Hurley, 2020).

The Science & Society research group is also co-coordinating a five-year Science Learning+ research project exploring how informal learning initiatives that combine science with the creative arts (referred to as ‘STEAM’ learning) can potentially make science more accessible to disenfranchised learners. This project has been funded €1.2 million by the Wellcome Trust and National Science Foundation and involves longitudinal data collection in five informal science learning venues across three countries (Ireland, the US, and the UK) to better understand STEAM learning (Mejias et al., 2021).

SySTEM 2020

Members of the Science & Society research group coordinated SySTEM 2020, a three-year European Commission-funded research project that explored learning beyond the classroom across 19 countries: The project mapped informal learning across Europe, and developed new tools and approaches to assess and support learners from minority, economically disadvantaged, and migrant communities. An example of such an approach was the use of zines as a method for facilitating reflective evaluation within interdisciplinary learning programmes (Brown et al., 2021).

SySTEM 2020 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 788317.


The Science & Society research group is a partner on the Open Science Hub (OSHub) project which has been funded €1.5 million to work with schools to bring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) education to communities as a tool for their sustainable development:

OSHub has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 824581.


  1. Brown, A., Hurley, M., Perry, S., & Roche, J. (2021). Zines as Reflective Evaluation Within Interdisciplinary Learning Programmes. Frontiers in Education6(675329), 1-10. DOI:

  2. Roche, J., Davis, N., Stanley, J., & Hurley, M. (2018). The Annual Ecsite Conference: An Engagement and Education Forum for Science Museums. Journal of Museum Education43(1), 78-82. DOI:

  3. Mejias, S., Thompson, N., Sedas, R. M., Rosin, M., Soep, E., Peppler, K., Roche, J., Wong, J., Hurley, M., Bell, P., & Bevan, B. (2021). The trouble with STEAM and why we use it anyway. Science Education105(2), 209-231. DOI:

  4. Moore, S., Roche, J., Bell, L., & Neenan, E. E. (2020). Supporting Facilitators of Maker Activities Through Reflective Practice. Journal of Museum Education45(1), 99-107. DOI:

  5. Brown, A., Roche, J., & Hurley, M. (2020). Engaging migrant and refugee communities in non-formal science learning spaces. JCOM: Journal of Science Communication19(4), R01. DOI: 


  • European Commission Horizon 2020 (SySTEM 2020 [Grant agreement no. 788317] and OSHub [Grant agreement no. 824581])
  • Wellcome Trust and National Science Foundation (Science Learning+)




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