The additive model of learning posits that providing children with engaging learning experiences in an out-of-school setting will promote levels of interest in a target content area—notably, STEM—that will persist in other settings. The additive model reflects assumptions underlying many initiatives funded with the intent of promoting engagement in school STEM by creating high-quality informal programs that build young peoples’ interests, capacities, and commitments to STEM. At the heart of the model is the view that by “adding” a sufficient amount of STEM interest “into” a child through engaging, experientially rich, and even fun activities, the child should become motivated to pursue school STEM and, ideally, follow a STEM learning pathway throughout his or her academic career.

While research shows that well-established personal interests often persist ...

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