The FCL Lab is the fruit of 7 years of work to imagine creating a center for studying free-choice learning in the Visitors Center at HMSC. Tremendous support from Oregon Sea Grant’s current director, Steve Brandt, and former director, Bob Malouf, as well as sage leadership advice from former Associate Directo, Jay Rasmussen, and current assistant director, Joe Cone, gave us a great early foundation for advancing a research agenda around visitor learning that would be exciting and relevant to university researchers, ocean science educators, and the ISE field at large. We have also had great support for student and faculty research over the years from John Falk and Lynn Dierking heading up the degree programs in FCL through Science and Math Education at OSU and Kerry Carlin-Morgan, the Director of Education at Oregon Coast Aquarium, our next door neighbors and partners in both research and professional development. Funding from NOAA, NSF, Title IIB, and Sea Grant have supported our efforts to integrate research into the visitor experience. This early and ongoing support has made it possible for us to now take the next step to creating experiences that blend research and learning seamlessly and that will allow us to become an open lab space for researchers across the field.
This blog, our website, webinars, and ongoing publications are great ways to find out about and get involved with the amazing group of faculty, students, museum educators, evaluators, developers, designers, and researchers we are working with both in Oregon and nationwide. So, welcome to the FCL Lab. I hope you will become a part of our community!