Danielle Keifert is a learning scientist, researcher, and educator currently working as a postdoctoral scholar in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS), at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Danielle researches children’s engagement in inquiry, particularly around science-related phenomena. She is interested in how young children orient to moments as inquiry, and the sensemaking resources they draw upon to explore phenomena in the world. These include resources like engaging in imaginative embodiment like imagining being a frog or a creature with feet on the back of your head to explore animal behavior and anatomy, engaging in thought experiments like imagining standing in boiling water or becoming a water particle to explore states of matter and temperature, and even drawing to make sense of engineering challenges. She attends in particular to the sensemaking practices of young children’s families, and explores how young children may be constrained or supported to engage in those practices across home and school settings. Through this work she seeks to broaden participation in science practices, not just by including more individuals from nondominant communities in science fields, but also by expanding what we understand as science and what we understand as productive for science learning.
Danielle is currently coordinating the Science through Technology Enhanced Play (STEP) project that partners researchers at UCLA and Indiana University (PIs: Drs. Noel Enyedy and Joshua Danish). Danielle also serves as the Associate Director for the Connect Center, a center for research and innovation in elementary education. Connect links nationally recognized researchers at the GSE&IS with teachers and administrators at the UCLA Lab School and public schools in Southern California to investigate central issues in education.
Danielle earned her PhD from the Learning Sciences program at Northwestern University. She also earned a certificate in Educational Sciences as a fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Educational Sciences (MPES), an Institute for Education Sciences training program at Northwestern University. Her dissertation committee included Drs. Reed Stevens (chair), Bruce Sherin, and James Spillane.
Before attending Northwestern University, Danielle received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College with a special major in Astronomy Education (advisors Drs. Lisa Smulyan and Eric Jensen). During her time at Swarthmore College she worked in the field of public science education at the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia Fels Planetarium. After graduating, Danielle moved to New York City where she taught middle school math and science for five years. Since graduating Northwestern University, Danielle has worked as a learning scientist/post-doctoral research for the Exploratorium (2015-2016), and as a post-doctoral researcher at University of California Los Angeles with Dr. Noel Enyedy (2016-present).