Families By the Seaside – Completed

2011_students with rocky intertidal datasheetsGoal: To create meaningful learning experiences for underserved/underrepresented families at informal science education centers.

Details: It is difficult for many informal science education centers (ISECs) to create meaningful learning experiences for underserved/underrepresented (UU) families. Often, ISEC program staff lack the tools and awareness required to do so; yet, it is these families who can benefit most from outdoor, informal science education. Although most ISECs work with community-based organizations (CBOs) who serve UU families, the institutional and staff relationships are usually built on a program-by-program basis. Additionally, finding a way to include the right Web 2.0 platform on the right device was challenging enough when attempting to reach “traditional” science center audiences; it was compounded when working with UU families.

The project was divided into four components of activity: 

1 Establishing a Community of Practice.

CBO and ISEC staff worked together in a series of facilitated and evaluated meetings and content workshops. RMC Research Corporation (RMC) solicited input from program partners to develop a needs assessment (established via focus groups) of the target audiences. Those efforts laid the groundwork for Component 2.

2 Developing a field program.

CBO-ISEC teams designed their own site-specific field programs for World’s Oceans Day. The programs were based on results of focus groups and informed by a science/community programs workshop. They focused on ocean literacy principles and concepts with input from NOAA-scientists.

3 Applying Web2.0 technology.

Concurrent with the field program development, the science and technology group (led by EOL) evaluated existing Web2.0 tools and trained project staff through a Technology Workshop. These were field tested in a family program for International Coastal Cleanup Day. Resources from Science & Technology Partners.

4 Supporting continuing and ongoing learning.

Partners determined the best ways to support continued participation via Web2.0 applications, revised programming according to participant feedback, implemented revised field programs to reach new participants, and supported follow-up learning among past participants.

Fore more information: Wendy Lull, Seacoast Science Center: w.lull@seacentr.org
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We gratefully acknowledge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education for supporting this project, under Grant No. NA10SEC0080026