Oregon Sea Grant’s Free-Choice Learning program will join with the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center and others in a three-year effort to expand professional development opportunities for museum, aquariums, zoo and park educators in an effort to improve informal science education.
The project, known as the Communicating Ocean Sciences Informal Education Network, is funded through a National Science Foundation initiative aimed at fostering and improving the kind of informal science education that takes place at aquariums, museums and other learning centers.
Leading the team for OSU is Shawn Rowe, Sea Grant marine education and learning specialist and an assistant professor with the OSU Department of Science and Math Education. Rowe heads Sea Grant’s Free-Choice Learning program, which studies the kind of learning people do outside the classroom.
Rowe’s program uses the Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport as a living lab for studying various approaches to informal science education, how to engage visitors and what kind of information people take away from their aquarium visits.
The Sea Grant program will receive more than $278,000 from the NSF over the next three years to develop training, workshops and curricula for informal science educators, and to continue work the program has already begun to foster a network of informal science educators and scientists who want to communicate their work to the public.
Read more about Sea Grant’s Free-Choice Learning program here.