Stanford Study Galileo Camps

Kids Who Attend Galileo Camps Become More Persistent, Collaborative and Resilient

In the spirit of the Galileo Innovation Approach, the team here at Galileo is continuously reflecting on the work we do, testing and evaluating our camps to improve every aspect. That’s why, in 2014, we jumped at the chance to collaborate with the AAALab—part of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and led by professor Dan Schwartz —on a formal study to see what kind of impact our camps are having on kids. Now, after 3 summers at 11 camps working with 850 kids, here’s the why, how, and what’s next of our work with Stanford.

The Partnership

When Galileo’s Glen Tripp and Stanford’s Dan Schwartz, professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and head of AAALab, met and learned about each other’s work, it proved to be a match made in research-project heaven.

On the Galileo side of things, we simply wanted to know whether our camps are making a difference. Are Galileo campers learning to try new things without being afraid to fail? Do they stay determined in the face of challenges? Are they collaborating to solve problems? In a nutshell: Do Galileo camps really fulfill our mission of developing innovators?

For their part, Stanford’s AAALab team, who works to evaluate the impact of informal learning experiences on children, were eager to explore a new educational environment—summer camp—and design new kinds of assessments to measure its effectiveness.

The Study

In the summer of 2014, the Stanford team spent more than 100 hours observing Galileo camps. Using the insight they gathered, our teams worked together to develop a new fun, online, game-based assessment focused on testing the Galileo Innovation Approach—namely, how well our camps teach the Innovator’s Mindset elements of determination, collaboration and reflection.

In the game, kids plant virtual gardens for farm animals, learning about seed spacing, sun exposure and other gardening basics. The goal was to see whether kids would persist to learn how to make the best gardens, share and learn from other players’ successes and failures and learn about gardening along the way.

Over the next two summers, 859 Galileo campers across 11 Galileo locations played our game—some during extended care at camp, others at home online.

The Results

While the results are still preliminary, we think they’re pretty exciting. Here’s what the data suggest so far:

  • Galileo campers can transfer the learning they do at camp to a computer game they play at home—an environment that doesn’t look or feel at all like camp.
  • Galileo camp experiences may improve kids’ persistence and collaboration skills (in particular, a willingness to share ideas and progress when engaging with difficult challenges), even in situations outside of camp.
  • Most importantly, kids who participate in Galileo’s curriculum seem to respond better in the face of failure. They tend to persevere at harder, novel design tasks.

In short, we’re seeing that Galileo is making real change in our campers’ growth, helping them develop and internalize the skills that make up our Innovator’s Mindset and deepening our impact the more they attend.

What’s next

We’ve loved collaborating with Stanford’s AAALab and are over the moon about the results so far. We’re still figuring out what’s next for our dream team, but the possibilities—using our game to see how camp affects kids from different socioeconomic statuses, developing a new version of the game to measure different traits, using Galileo curriculum in other Stanford studies—are endless (and exciting). We can’t wait for wherever the research takes us next.