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Program Description

Overview Discovery Youth (DY) is the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose’s (CDM) after school program for youth in San Jose, California. By giving youth the chance to develop multimedia projects that promote healthy behaviors to others, especially younger peers, participants construct identities as health educators and contribute to the health awareness of the museum’s younger visitors. A key goal is to channel youth interest in technology into a program emphasizing health awareness by creating a learning environment and experiences that feel distinctly different from a school health class.
Start Date October 2001
Scope local
Type after school, summer, weekends
Location urban
Setting community-based organization
Participants elementary through high school students (ages 10–14 in grades 5–9)
Number of Sites/Grantees one
Number Served over 130 in 2001–2002; 25–30 core participants on a regular basis
Components DY participants’ multimedia projects are typically video-, Web-, or radio broadcast-based, on such topics as promoting good hygiene, smoking prevention, and demystifying doctor visits. Most activities take place in CDM’s Multimedia Studio, where youth have access to computers with multimedia software. Youth are introduced to the technical and creative aspects of producing educational multimedia. Specifically, they are taught how to shoot footage using digital video cameras, edit video and create special effects using Adobe Photoshop and Apple iMovie, create animations using stop-motion techniques and Macromedia Flash software, and use backgrounds, set design, costume design, and art direction to make compelling finished products.

Youth are guided by two Museum Educators who are supervised by CDM’s Director of Youth Programs. Seventh, eighth, and ninth graders come on Thursdays, while fifth and sixth graders come on Tuesdays; both groups also come on Saturdays. Participants share their work with other youth regularly and have opportunities to showcase and explain their work at the San Jose Children’s Health Fair and at the Museum.

DY offers three separate program sessions during each program year; each session has its own separate goals that are expected to be completed in the course of that session. All youth participants are expected to participate in all three sessions.
Funding Level $86,839 in 2001–2002; $89,258 in 2002–2003
Funding Sources Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health


Overview A formative evaluation assessed DY’s progress toward its goals of promoting healthy development and strengthening opportunities for youth to participate in meaningful after school programs. An impact evaluation studied how DY uses technology skills to provide youth with greater self confidence, better social skills, and an increased sense that youth are important resources to the community.
Evaluator Dan Gilbert

Sepehr Hejazi Moghadam, ASSESS
Evaluations Profiled Looking Back and Looking Ahead: A Formative Evaluation of Discovery Youth at San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum

An Evaluation of the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum After School and Weekend Program
Evaluations Planned unknown
Report Availability Gilbert, D. (2002). Looking back and looking ahead: A formative evaluation of Discovery Youth at San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum. San Jose, CA: San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum.

Moghadam, S. H. (2004). An evaluation of the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum after school and weekend program. Oakland, CA: ASSESS.

Available at:


Evaluation Dan Gilbert
960 Hutchinson Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Tel: 650-326-2080

Sepehr Hejazi Moghadam
266 Withers St.
Brooklyn, NY 10027
Program Jessica Intrator
Media Studio Educator/Museum Educator for Youth
Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
Tel: 408-298-5437 ext. 243
Profile Updated June 26, 2006

Evaluation 1: Looking Back and Looking Ahead: A Formative Evaluation of Discovery Youth at San Jose Children's Discovery Museum

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose To analyze the successes and challenges that program participants and staff experienced during the 1st program year.
Evaluation Design Non-Experimental: Data were collected through interviews with DY staff and participants.
Data Collection Methods Interviews/Focus Groups: The Director of Youth Programs and the two Museum Educators were interviewed toward the end of the year to get staff perspectives on DY.

In focus groups, 11 youth participants reflected on their experiences in DY. These youth were divided into four groups of 2–3 youth each and were given a series of four sentences to complete as a group with their reflections and recommendations: “I like…,” “I’d change…,” “I learned…,” and “I still want to learn….” They then discussed their responses in the larger group. Next, youth showed some of the videos that they produced during DY and discussed the processes and projects they engaged in as they watched their work. In-depth individual interviews were conducted with two participants: Javier, a 14-year-old Latino eighth grader, and Michelle, a 15-year-old White high school sophomore.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected during the 2001–2002 year.

Formative/Process Findings

Activity Implementation Participants produced a total of 17 multimedia projects during the course of the year, the vast majority of which were health education videos for audiences of other youth.

Video multimedia projects were used more often than radio or Web projects, which was partially due to youth’s greater interest in video multimedia projects.

One challenge that arose was that youth were more interested in learning to use high-tech equipment than learning about health-related topics, making it difficult for staff to maintain the health-related program focus. One method that seemed to help overcome this challenge was the continuous focus on producing multimedia products to help younger kids learn about health, which seemed to appeal to participants.

Two of the key software products used, Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Flash, sometimes proved to be a poor fit for participants because they are rather complex and tend to require a great deal of time and patience to use effectively. Instead, participants often worked with more user-friendly techniques such as stop-motion animation and software such as iMovie to enhance their projects.
Staffing/Training Staff's technical skills were better geared toward video than radio or the Web, which partially contributed to the de-emphasis on radio and Web usage in DY.

Both participants and staff noted that there was a high degree of respect and trust between youth and staff. One participant said, “[The two Museum Educators] are both really good role models, they treat us like people. They understand us; they don’t look down on us.”

The two Museum Educators felt that they needed more training and support in health issues to provide a richer environment for the health education program focus. Neither had enough of a children’s health background to feel confident answering some of the questions that participants raised. One strategy they used to circumvent this problem was to encourage participants to look at familiar topics in more depth and to consider different ways to present their knowledge to peers and younger kids.

Summative/Outcome Findings

Academic The two interviewed participants expressed that DY helped them prepare for school. For example, Javier expressed confidence that his computer skills will help him as he enters high school. He noted that because he does not have a computer at home, he would not have learned how to use a computer without DY.
Community Development Participants presented their work at the San Jose Children’s Health Fair and the CDM’s Safe Nights (parties for youth held at the museum). At the time of the evaluation, several hundred youth had seen the projects at these events, and evaluators noted that it was likely that hundreds more would view these projects in the coming year.
Youth Development The evaluator found that one program success was helping participants increase their self-confidence and social skills. For instance, Javier commented, “Without this program there’s no way I could just sit here and talk to you… I got better at talking.” Michelle reported that she “learned how to work with other people and to have fun doing it.”

Staff noted that participants learned how to work with a diverse group of other youth and that participants were developing new relationships with other youth because of the program that seemed to be continuing outside of the program.

Evaluation 2: An Evaluation of the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum After School and Weekend Program

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose To examine the following questions: Has DY increased youth’s self-confidence? Have youth built relationships with peers and DY staff? Do youth have improved knowledge of media, technology, project management, and communication? Do youth feel that they are resources for their community? What are parents’ perceptions of DY? What was the experience of DY staff during the program year?
Evaluation Design Quasi-Experimental and Non-Experimental: The learning gains and sentiments of 35 DY youth during sessions I–III of the program year were measured by (a) youth participant surveys for sessions I (pretest and posttest) and III (posttest), (b) youth participant focus groups in sessions II and III, (c) end-of-year parent surveys and interviews, (d) end-of-year staff surveys, and (e) youth whole-group reflection activities at the end of session II. A total of 32 youth completed session I pretest surveys, 21 completed session I posttest surveys, and 26 completed end-of-year surveys. Ten youth volunteered for focus groups; their length of DY participation ranged from 3 months to over 2 years and ages ranged from 9 to 15. Two focus groups were conducted in December, one with 3 girls and one with 3 boys, and the third was conducted in March with 2 girls and 2 boys. Parents were asked to complete either a survey or interview: 5 were interviewed, and 4 were surveyed. All 4 staff completed staff surveys. Reflection activities involved all DY youth.
Data Collection Methods Interviews/Focus Groups: Focus group youth were asked about DY experiences, self-esteem changes, interactions with adults and peers, and relations with their communities.

Parent interviews provided impressions of the DY year, how to improve DY, and thoughts on DY’s effects on their child’s behavior, self-esteem, and academic achievement.

As part of a whole group exercise, DY youth were divided into groups of 4–5 and given markers and large sheets of paper, each with a unique question about experiences in the program. Each group rotated from one sheet of paper to the next until they contributed to each question.

In addition, the entire DY group chose between three methods (play dough, papier-mâché, or video) to express their DY experience.

Surveys/Questionnaires: Youth surveys included two parts. The first part focused on technology skills pertinent to DY (e.g., sending email, using a digital camera). Session I pretest and posttest included 9 items in this section, with a scale of: “I’ve never tried,” “I know a little,” “I can do it, but slowly,” “Pretty darn good,” and “I rule.” The-end-of-year survey included 12 items with a scale of “I've never tried,” “I know a little,” and “I am the best.” The second part included items about self-esteem (e.g., “I am confident presenting in front of others” on the session I pretest). In session I posttest and end-of-year surveys, items were worded to reflect on changes since participating in DY (e.g., “Since joining Discovery Youth, I enjoy talking in front of people”). The pretest session I version included 7 items with a scale of “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “sort of agree,” “agree,” and “strongly agree.” The session I posttest included 9 items with a scale of “no way,” “sort of,” and “I rule.” The end-of-year survey included 8 items with a scale of “no way,” “sort of,” and “yes, definitely.” The posttest session I survey also included an open-ended statement: “I come to Discovery Youth because…”

Parent surveys provided impressions of the program year, how to improve DY, and thoughts on DY’s effects on their child’s behavior, self-esteem, and academic achievement.

The staff survey focused on DY’s attempt to meet established goals and on pinpointing the year’s accomplishments and shortcomings.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected from fall 2003 through spring 2004.

Formative/Process Findings

Activity Implementation Male December focus group youth felt that all of the activities were fun and exciting, and agreed that the activities were a great way to keep busy while spending time with friends.

Female December focus group members felt that DY was very youth-friendly and provided job related experience. One youth cited communication as a program strength.

The March focus group was enthusiastic about field trips and working independently from adults during filmmaking. Along with the increased ability to use tools, the youth most enjoyed the heightened responsibility and ownership they felt in working on their projects. Teamwork and group cohesion were also frequent sentiments expressed about the filmmaking process. Completion of the video project felt momentous; youth said they learned a great deal through the process and grew closer to other group members.

The male December focus group wanted more opportunities to choose activities or to have a larger pool from which to choose. Similarly, the female December focus group felt that they didn’t have much say in creating activities but that this was okay in some cases.

The March focus group desired a more controlled work environment that allowed for more time and added more group cooperation. Similarly, the female December focus group felt that the program was often too chaotic and that “encouraging responsibility” was necessary

For the large group session at the end of session II, the most common themes for what youth enjoyed most in DY were computers, working with/hanging out with a friend, making movies/videos, field trips, the food, Safe Nights (parties for youth held at the museum), volunteering, and meeting new people/making new friends. The most common themes for what they would change were more/better snacks and more field trips. The most common theme for what they wanted to learn more about was movies.
Parent/Community Involvement Many surveyed parents suggested increased parent updates.
Program Context/Infrastructure Surveyed staff said that sessions felt too rushed and that they were pressed to squeeze or cut short many agenda items.

Two surveyed staff members provided a description about whether program goals were met. One said, “Given the time limitations of each session, I feel we did meet our goals, and even exceeded them in terms of youth satisfaction. Some specific goals were not met, including learning animation and having youth complete a personal Web page….” The other member responded, “Yes, in a degree we always finish what we started out to do. There are always secondary goals that are sometimes not focused on, but the primary goals are always achieved.”
Recruitment/Participation For the session I posttest survey question about why youth came to DY, the majority of youth responded with comments similar to the following: “I enjoy helping people and being in groups. I also come to Discovery Youth because the museum is cool, and we get to use digital computers;” “It's something to keep us busy and away from things that are bad;” “It is fun I get to work on the floor, do volunteer work while meeting new people and getting to know them better;” and “I want to help people.”

According to staff surveys, youth attendance was problematic. The consensus was that “erratic attendance from youth was detrimental to their growth and to final projects.” Similarly, female December focus group participants felt that “improving participation” was necessary.

Many parents suggested creating more avenues to increase the diversity of youth participants.

For the pretest session I survey, many more youth selected the “I rule” category than either “sort of” or “no way” on the self-esteem items. Youth responded most highly on the “I feel comfortable when working in groups” item.
Staffing/Training Among the four staff members, only two noted in the survey that they planned to return for next year’s program, and only one of the two returning would be full time. Of the three staff members who answered the question about how long they had been with DY, one had been with the program for 1.5 years and two for 8 months.

Summative/Outcome Findings

Youth Development On the end-of-year youth survey, comfort with nearly all of the technology skills showed significant improvements from the pretest session I survey. However, there were three areas that still needed improvement: “scanning pictures” (42% had never tried, and another 42% only knew a little at the end of the year); “using Adobe Illustrator” (37% had never tried, and another 45% knew a little at the end of the year); and “editing film with iMovie” (36% had never tried, and another 32% knew only a little at the end of the year).

There were no significant differences between pretest and posttest session I youth survey responses in any outcomes. However, for “I feel comfortable when working in groups,” DY youth experienced a decrease in the number who felt that they “rule.”

Of youth surveyed, 76% at session I posttest and 71% at the end of the year felt more proud of themselves since coming to DY; 76% at session I posttest and 63% at the end of the year agreed that there are more people who liked them as a friend since coming to DY; 71% at session I posttest and 69% at the end of the year felt comfortable working in groups since coming to DY; 67% at session I posttest and 61% at the end of the year felt that they could help kids that are younger and older than them; 57% at session I posttest agreed that they were not scared to talk to adults (this item was not asked at the end of the year); 57% at session I posttest and 69% at the end of the year felt that the session taught them to tell people their ideas; 38% at session I posttest and 42% at the end of the year said that their friends and families asked for their help since coming to DY; 33% at session I posttest and 63% at the end of the year enjoyed talking in front of people; and 33% at session I posttest and 31% at the end of the year enjoyed letting an adult know how they feel.

When asked on the survey whether they felt that DY youth were more comfortable using technology related tools, one staff member said, “Yes. They pick up on new technologies quickly. Some had never used digital cameras before but soon took to shooting pictures every week. They are all pretty proficient with the Internet and video. They also took on many different roles in the production of video projects. They had the opportunity to try their hands at many roles: shooting, acting, editing, directing, and props.”

As a result of DY, the male December focus group participants felt that they developed a sense of responsibility towards what they learned, provided others with knowledge from DY, were much more comfortable around computer programs and camera equipment, developed a strong admiration for teaching younger children, learned to work as a team, increased their understanding of rules, improved their relationship with friends and family, experienced higher self-esteem, and exhibited positive behavioral and attitude changes.

As a result of DY, the female December focus group felt they had increased creativity, a more “open mind to new things,” and greater comfort teaching others to use the Internet, computer programs, and equipment. They felt that their behavior, motivation, health, and academic achievement changed since being in DY. In addition, they felt that they made a difference in someone’s life and that DY activities helped them think about who they wanted to be someday.

When discussing the important factors in moviemaking, March focus group youth felt that a heightened level of responsibility was established. In addition, these youth felt that the video projects provided them with the opportunity to express their feelings. They further expressed that the effects of filmmaking no longer overwhelmed them (“I know how to make my own movie now”) and that the technology tools that they used enabled them to recognize the tools needed to create Hollywood films.

Parents felt that their children had become more confident since joining DY. One parent with two children in DY noted, “It has helped my kids be more outgoing and focused.”

Surveyed parents felt that DY introduced important health and social issues to youth that may not have been available otherwise. Along with staff support, parents felt that youth were able to incorporate this new knowledge into a constructive means of presentation. “They deal with issues of today’s youth and they have the creative control to express it. The adults in the program encourage the youth …” Across all responses, having program staff surrounding youth was found to positively influence youth self-esteem and skills.

According to staff surveys, the program had a big impact on youth comfort with technology because of the high level of support from staff.

For the large group session at the end of session II, the most common themes for what youth had learned were how to make and edit movies, use iMovie, and work in a group.

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project