ASTC has a new initiative to develop a set of tools for people who work in the field of Informal STEM Learning (ISL). This three-year project builds on the Informal STEM Learning Professional Competency Framework created in 2018. It’s funded by the National Science Foundation, who has charged our team to describe the skills, knowledge, values, and other capabilities that enable a person to be effective in their job. The work of ISL professionals requires specialized skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. This work is rarely routine and the tasks often require problem-solving and creative thinking. This project aims to provide new tools and support for people working in ISL.

Help us shape this project for the future of our field!

We are currently looking for ISL professionals to participate in virtual and in-person opportunities to improve the Framework through listening sessions, workshops, focus groups, asynchronous feedback opportunities, and more. Use the link below to let us know if you’re interested. You can also opt-in to receive updates when new tools are released.

If you have questions about the project, you can reach a member of the ASTC project team at

More about the Framework 

The Informal STEM Learning Professional Competency Framework is a tool for individuals, organizations, and academic programs to understand, plan, and build professional capacity in the field of informal STEM learning. 

  • Individuals can use the framework to assess their current competencies and to identify the competencies they want to develop. 
  • Institutions can use the framework to plan professional development for staff or develop job descriptions. 
  • Academic programs can use the Framework to review curriculum, support learning, or provide to students for guidance as they consider courses or pursue internships. 

The project team

We’ve got a great team! For more information, reach out to


  • Melissa Ballard (Principal Investigator), Director of Programs 
  • Amanda Fisher (Co-Principal Investigator), Associate Director of Programs 
  • Shannon Sullivan, Manager of Special Projects 
  • Kelly Tang, Manager of Communications 
  • Eve Klein, Senior Advisor for Public Engagement with Science
  • Kris Morrissey, Consultant and Experienced ISL Professional 
  • Dennis Schatz, Consultant and Experienced ISL Professional 

COSI Center for Research and Evaluation

  • Dolly Hayde, Researcher 
  • Joe Heimlich (Co-Principal Investigator), Senior Director of Research 
  • Laura Weiss, Researcher 

Oregon State University’s STEM Research Center

  • Kelly Riedinger (Co-Principal Investigator), Senior Researcher and Program Lead in Informal, K-12 and Connected Learning 
  • Martin Storksdieck, Director of STEM Research Center 
  • Victoria Sellers, Research Team 

Project Advisors 

Participant advisors provide strategic direction and are active participants in project activities. They bring deep connections to diverse museum and ISL professionals, such as emerging professionals, museum studies students and graduates, and non-dominant populations. 

  • Kelsey Brow, National Emerging Museum Professionals Network  
  • Mike Lesperance, The Design Minds, Inc.  
  • Rose Paquet, Incluseum
  • Jessie Ryker-Crawford, Institute of American Indian Arts
  • Therese Quinn, University of Illinois at Chicago    
  • Sierra Van Ryck deGroot, Museum Hue

Research and Evaluation Advisors 

The Research and Evaluation Advisory Committee add depth and perspective to our data collection and analysis for this project. These four R&E experts meet routinely with the research and evaluation teams to critically review plans, discuss findings, and respond to reports and publications. 

  • Marjorie Bequette, Science Museum of Minnesota
  • David Delaine, Ohio State University
  • Kathayoon Khalil, New England Aquarium
  • Mark Miller, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grants 2215274, 1514815, 1514884, 1514890, and 1515315. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF. 

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