On a warm weekend in October, about two dozen OLLI members and an equal number of Berkeley undergraduates gathered for an intergenerational design challenge. This informal STEM learning experience is the capstone event of the National Science Foundation research study awarded to us and two campus partners, The Fung Fellowship and the Lawrence Hall of Science, in the fall of 2019. The students were an amazing group of go-getters (smart, empathetic, engaged) and, no surprise, so were the OLLI members!

The NSF study involves developing and validating measures of engagement in informal STEM learning and in STEM advocacy in older adults, and working to understand what motivates (or not) that engagement. Due to the pandemic, this in-person informal STEM learning experience had been delayed by a year from fall of 2020 to fall of 2021. The additional time allowed the research team to dive more deeply into developing the educational measures. A second round of interviews, focus groups and pilot surveys were conducted for the measures, along with rigorous statistical analysis and the input of the study’s expert Advisory Council. One pilot survey for the advocacy measure involved member participation from 18 other Osher Institutes across the country in order to expand regional diversity.

To the hundreds of OLLI members who has participated in this effort over the past two years — answering survey questions, being interviewed, spending a weekend with us — thank you! 

Let's hear it for science!