La Fuerza–STEM: Building on Latinx Families' Strengths to Model and Promote Informal Science Learning Through a Culturally Responsive Telenovela Series
2021 to 2024

Families play a vital role in supporting children’s informal science learning. Yet multiple studies have shown that Latinx families, particularly in neighborhoods with a high poverty rate, face many barriers to accessing informal science experiences and learning about science-related careers. Telenovelas, a type of serial television drama watched by Spanish-speaking audiences around the world, may provide an entryway to reaching these families. Prior research has shown that telenovelas can be an effective means of changing adults’ behavior, with the potential for cascading impacts on children.

With funding from the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program at the National Science Foundation, the La Fuerza–STEM project will use a culturally responsive approach to attempt to broaden participation of Latinx families in informal science learning using La Fuerza de Creer, a popular Spanish-language telenovela that reaches over 7 million U.S. viewers. The five-episode telenovela series will model positive informal science interactions between caregivers and their children and provide positive role models of Latinx scientists. The project team will then use the telenovela as the foundation for a five-session workshop series for caregivers to further explore how to engage in these informal science learning opportunities with their children. Research is infused at every step of the project, which will examine the relationship between both the telenovela and the workshops and caregivers’ practices and attitudes toward science. The La Fuerza–STEM project seeks to expand informal science learning using a culturally grounded strategy to engage an underserved population that is historically under-represented in STEM, building on Latinx families’ strengths and interests and tapping their power—la fuerza—to engage children in exploring science.

EDC is collaborating with Univision and Literacy Partners to carry out this project.