Worldviews Network: Ecological Literacy Programming for Digital Planetariums and Beyond
The Worldviews Network - a collaboration of institutions that have pioneered Earth systems research, education and evaluation methods - is creating innovative approaches for engaging the American public in dialogues about human-induced global changes. Leveraging the power of immersive scientific visualization environments at informal science centers across the US, we are developing transformative educational processes that integrate the benefits of visual thinking, systems thinking, and design thinking. This "seeing, knowing, doing" approach empowers educators with tools and techniques that help audiences to visualize, comprehend, and address complex issues from a whole-systems perspective. The Worldviews Network will make explicit the interconnections of Earth's life support systems across time and space as well as inspire community participation in design processes by providing real-world examples of successful projects that are increasing the healthy functioning of regional and global ecosystems.
Embedding NOAA in a Public Learning Laboratory - The Environmental Scientist-In-Residence Program at the Exploratorium
The Environmental Scientist-in-Residence Program will leverage NOAA's scientific assets and personnel by combining them with the creativity and educational knowledge of the pioneer hands-on science center. To do this, the program will embed NOAA scientists in a public education laboratory at the Exploratorium. Working closely with youth Explainers, exhibit developers, and Web and interactive media producers at the Exploratorium, NOAA scientists will share instruments, data, and their professional expertise with a variety of public audiences inside the museum and on the Web. At the same time the scientists will gain valuable skills in informal science communication and education. Through cutting-edge iPad displays, screen-based visualizations, data-enriched maps and sensor displays, and innovative interactions with visitors on the museum floor, this learning laboratory will enable NOAA scientists and Exploratorium staff to investigate new hands-on techniques for engaging the public in NOAA's environmental research and monitoring efforts.
Families by the Seaside: Building Community-based Outdoor Ocean Science Learning Experiences
This 2-year program will advance the way informal ocean science education institutions reach underserved/underrepresented families by facilitating and formalizing relationships between informal science education centers and community based organizations. Project teams in five New England communities will collaborate to create a practicable, outdoor ocean-science learning experience specifically designed for families in their shared service area. Building on a needs assessment produced through target-audience focus groups, the program will combine coastal field experiences with web-based interactive and participatory learning activities developed and tested by the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL; www.eol.org/) and the Northeast Regional Association for Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) to support in-field and ongoing learning. Science content will be informed and vetted by NOAA research scientists and work between the science centers and community organizations will be professionally facilitated. Formats and effectiveness will be evaluated by external evaluators and revised throughout the project.