Leap into Science

Cultivated a National Network for Informal Science and Literacy

Lead Staff:
Scott Pattison


The LEAP into Science program combined children’s science-themed books with hands-on science activities to promote life-long interest and knowledge of science and did so through partnerships with informal educators at libraries, museums, and other out-of-school time providers. As an outreach program, Leap into Science built the capacity of children (ages 3-10) and families from underserved communities to participate in science where they live. This project developed a national infrastructure of state and regional partnerships to scale up The Franklin Institute’s proven model of Leap into Science.


Field-tested and implemented in 12 cities, Leap into Science was expanded to 90 new rural and urban communities in 15 states, and it’s estimated that this expansion reached more than 500,000 children and adults as well as 2,700 informal educators over four years. The inclusion of marginalized rural communities provided new opportunities to evaluate and adapt the program to the unique assets and needs of rural families and communities.

Research Activity

As part of the broader research and evaluation efforts of the project, TERC team members collaborated with the Institute for Learning Innovation on an in-depth, qualitative research study on how families with young children develop science-related interest pathways through participation in the LEAP program.


Pattison, S. A., & Dierking, L. D. (2018). Early childhood science interest development: Variation in interest patterns and parent-child interactions among low-income families. Science Education, 103(2), 362–388.