Improving Science Education: Making Connections Between Scientists and Educators
Title: Bridging the Science Outreach Gap: making connections between scientists and educators
Group Leader: Myriam Springuel and Barbara Spector
Problem: What can be done to make scientists and educators interact more with each other so that they can better educate the public and get them to care about conservation?
Why does an idea not always make the journey from my head to yours intact?
The Three C's
1. Cognitive framework – Everybody has their own experiences
2. Context – Words get their meaning from the context in which they're used (e. g. run for president, run in a marathon)
3. Culture – how can we communicate among people from varying cultures and get the same idea across?
Strategies for bridging the gap
- Active listening
- time for participants to get to know one another
- increase awareness of cultural differences
- inclusion of experts
- level playing field
- mutual trust/respect
- admiration for all
Informal Science Institutions Environmental Education Graduate Certificate
- http://www.gradcerts.us f.edu/certificates/xev.html
- Distance learning, four graduate courses for anybody from any background
- Develop beneficial relationships among science educators and formal educational institutions
Science and Environment Council of Sarasota County
- Posts “explorations”
- Has to be linked to a benchmark to be included on the website
- Make better connections between students and scientists and the community
- Middle and high school level students are exposed to less outreach, new exploration focus on this group
- STEMposium brought together museum educators, 6-12 grade students, experts
How can discussion between these groups be stimulated other than just bringing them together?
- Timing - Getting people to come together at times of day they are all free at
- Vocabulary – scientists use words that are unfamiliar/intimidating to a general audience
Why is there a gap between scientists and educators and students?
- Teachers feel that getting kids interested in science is extra work
- Benchmarks mean that learning has to be rigidly structured so the science you want to teach must be tied to these benchmarks. A lot of great hands-on activities have to be taken out of lesson plans.
- Because lesson plans are synchronized throughout the district, every classroom is covering the same material on the same day so scientists doing outreach become scarce because they can only be in the classroom when it's linked to the material and if every classroom covers the same material at the same time they cannot be in every classroom.
- The EdExplore project offers an incentive for putting in the work to get kids interested in science because every “Exploration” meets a benchmark
- Scientists are reluctant to collaborate with people if there is no economic benefit and do it mostly out of a sense of fulfillment
- NSF grants ask for a paragraph to demonstrate the impact your research will have and an informal educator could potentially write this section of the proposal. An educational impact can make one grant proposal favorable over an otherwise equally good grant proposal
- Marketing research to schoolchildren brings in customers to museums/aquariums
- Staff promotion is based on publications not outreach which adds to the problem
- The world is changing and school systems are trying to change in response
- politics is getting involved in education – there is a difference between learning and meeting political needs so we have to work around that
- standardized testing (i.e. multiple choice) only tests factual knowledge and not the ability to understand and apply concepts
- not every child has the same learning style
Science Education at the College Level
- Art students don't like learning science and it has to be “fluffy” (no big words) to appeal to them
Ways to get kids interested in science
- Have actual scientists available to interact with children
- Hands-on research programs
- Can even give incentives to educators. One program takes students to do research in the Keys over the summer and educators get to come along too.
Outreach to Groups that aren't already interested
- If kids/the public don't get out and see nature they won't care about preserving it so how can they be drawn to learn about nature?
- “Forcing” students to get out and see nature is a great way to make them care, and it can be tailored to different audiences
- Photography nature walks can get photographers into nature
- Coral Reef Crochet Project educated a bunch of women into crochet about coral reefs