Communities of Learning for Urban Environments and Science (CLUES) is a five-year program that focuses on teaching science to families in communities of the Philadelphia-Camden region. The program is a collaboration between the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences, the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Zoo, and 10 community-based organizations (CBOs).

CLUES enables families to learn science together—within their own neighborhoods rather than in their children’s schools. When parents can learn alongside their children, they are able to support children academically while finding out more about subjects that interest them.

CLUES seeks to create a model of family learning and professional development for members of underserved communities by:

  • Engaging a group of community apprentices who will develop and facilitate culturally relevant activities both within their local communities and at the museums
  • Creating a professional development program for community leaders
  • Empowering CBO-based educators to direct the focus and content of science programming
  • Supporting ongoing collaboration among families, community-based education leaders, and museums.

To achieve these goals, museum professionals train qualified community members (apprentices) with the necessary skills to run science workshops and plan events. The apprentices, in turn, train part-time CBO-based presenters to become workshop leaders. Apprentices and presenters are involved in family programming, including workshops and family events at the museums, local outdoor activities and community workshops, and take home activities.

The CBOs, our diverse community partners, include the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, LEAP Academy Charter School, the Indochinese American Council, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Norris Square Neighborhood Project, Folk Arts Cultural Treasures (FACTS) Charter School, Imani Education Circle Charter School, Falomi Club/Camp Fire USA, Youth Service, Inc., and Puerto Rican Unity for Progress, Inc. This project builds upon the previous work of the Philadelphia-Camden Informal Science Education Collaborative (PISEC) and its Community Ambassadors for Science Exploration (CASE) program.