Ocean Sciences for Rural Communities via Informal Science Education: Pop-Up/Drill Down Science
Ocean science is important for the public to understand as the impact of water as a resource has become more significant in recent years. As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings including rural communities. This project's goals are to educate rural communities and youth about ocean science via setting up exhibits in unique venues such as parks, parking lots and at community gatherings as well as in local libraries. Local library staff and Girl Scouts will assist the investigators in operationalizing the community activities. The project is a collaboration between the Consortium for Leadership, Inc., Rutgers University, the University of Hawaii, Ashland University, the College of Exploration, the Girl Scout organization and some of its affiliates, the Rural Library Education Network, local museums, and the Texas State Aquarium.
This project will experiment with a new style of presentation called "Pop up" which brings in exhibits that are rapidly and easily set up in unconventional venues such as parks to get the communities' attention. From among the visitors attending the "Pop up" sessions, the organizers will invite those who have shown interest to attend deeper discussions of ocean science at the local library. This deeper discussion, referred to as "Drill down", will involve scientists commenting from a research ship on their research activities. Cores from the ocean floor will be used to educate attendees about the history of the planet. Locations of the project venues will include rural communities that have a high population of underserved citizens. Research questions to be investigated are: 1. Do the "Pop up" and "Drill down" exercises create an effective and sustainable model for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning? 2. How does the "Pop up/Drill down" methodology meet the needs of partner informal science education institutions such as the libraries and Girl Scouts in fulfilling their own missions? 3. What is the impact of these sessions on increasing awareness and knowledge of ocean and earth science, technology, and the work of scientists/engineers?