Shawn and I will be going to the National Association for Interpretation Workshop this week in Reno, Nevada. We will be talking to interpreters about bridging the gaps between Free-Choice Learning research and Interpretive practice, “mining the nuggets” for cross-communication and visibility among professionals in both worlds, discussing potential benefits from interdisciplinary use of concepts, principles and research findings towards the shared goal among both communities of practice.
Museums are informal education settings where Free-Choice Learning (FCL) takes place and where educators and practitioners are also interpreters. FCL in such settings draws from strong learning theories and their contextual application, targeting audiences such as museum educators, evaluation staff, exhibit designers, program developers, volunteer personnel and volunteer managers. These are also the targeted practitioners mediating learning in museums through use of interpretive tools, principles and resources.
Given the complimentary nature of practice in both FCL and Interpretation fields, understanding cross-disciplinary potential and dissemination are ways to create collaborative resources and further the research and understanding of how learning takes place in museums, how the theoretical discourses relate to/build upon interpretive principles and use of interpretive tools. This confluence can have meaningful implications on interpretive program design and implementation in museum settings and others alike, as to promote valuable learning experiences for visitors.
This is what we will be brainstorming at the workshop. So bloggers please respond with any insights you may have on possible collaboration avenues and links you consider important to be made here.
How did I learn to communicate scientific information to the public? While I was working towards my bachelor’s degree in biology I started working as an interpreter at a city park in Indianapolis. The position was advertised through the university’s biology department and I decided it’d be a great way to get involved in the community. A lot of what I did was nature hikes with home-schooled youth, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, and a few family events. My knowledge about indigenous plants and animals grew every week (i.e. I learned a lot of content). While I simultaneously gained confidence talking to people, I received very little training on how to communicate. The experience, however, was a driving force for where I am now – environmental education. My communication knowledge and skills have developed in recent years from coursework and from having Shawn as a mentor.
How can we teach others to communicate science to the public? As Laia stated last week, we led a workshop about outreach. We focused on questioning, observing, and reflecting and the workshop seemed well received. During a small group discussion, some scholars and I talked about how to start a conversation with a stranger, engage kids with complicated science concepts, and how to talk to someone who is aggressive and says your research is wrong. These are all important and relevant topics, which we addressed using past experiences and how those experiences were handled. Hopefully the workshop is a stepping-stone for the scholars as they continue to think about and pursue outreach and communication opportunities. You can visit their blog to see what they had to say about communicating science at daVinci Days (a Corvallis event).
So, how did you learn to communicate science to the public?
Wrangling these wave tanks really is a full time job, but we have making progress with our next round of prototyping this week.
The tsunami tank has had an interface face lift with updated kiosk software, and the technical issues we were having with the wave makers locking up seem to have been subdued (fingers crossed).
We were having issues with visitors throwing lego for building their tsunami-resilient structures all over the place, so I moved the lego storage actually on to the tank using clip-on cups.
I also decided to start using plastic sign holders to prototype signage actually on the tank. This way, I can switch out sign versions easily and more frequently if I need to. These are just simple slanted sign holders I clipped in to the edge of the tank table.
We also moved our prototype wave buoy closer to the wave energy tank, and Allison is in the process of making up some labels for it.
Right now I am working on overarching signs to tie the three tanks together, and create a more holistic wave laboratory exhibit. Here is the plan I have so far to help us work toward this.
There is lots to do this summer, but it’s great to get moving on our plans. The exhibit has become very popular in the visitor center, so I’m interested to see how the visitors and staff react to it as we prototype more of the signage pieces
While post-graduation job hunting, over the summer I am continuing to work on the wave tanks and their associated interpretive signage. After much time prototyping, the hope is to get the wave tanks looking more polished interpretation-wise over the summer
I have been creating a annotated panoramic plan of the wave lab area to start to tackle each tank and its signage. I seamed together images of each tank and have been annotating it with some of the signage ideas we have been brainstorming the last few months. The idea is to build into the tanks the overarching interpretive themes, which then feed into more specific themes per tank. The themes are really key here, as they help to frame the key ideas of the tanks and therefore what the main ideas presented in the signage will be.
Once I get this image completed, I’ll post some pictures. Feedback is always welcome!