The Exploratorium, the world-renowned "hands-on" museum of science, art, and human perception in San Francisco, is collaborating with Kingâ€™s College London (KCL), and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), to invigorate science education.
During the past decade, the British and American public have embraced the proliferation of informal science centers in both countries, creating a need for educators trained in informal science instruction and prompting educators to examine the strategies that make such centers powerful learning venues. CILS aims to prepare leaders in informal science education, conduct research, support students pursuing advanced degrees in science education, and provide professional development opportunities for science museum staff. The Center, headquartered at the Exploratorium, will begin operation in summer 2002 with Bronywn Bevan serving as acting director.
Participating researchers and graduate students will examine innovative methods of science teaching, as well as factors that affect the design of creative learning environments and alternative methods of teaching and learning science content. Research studies will be conducted at the Exploratorium and other science museums, zoos, and aquaria in the U.S. and at the London Zoo and other centers in Britain over the next five years.
CILS is one of only seven new centers funded by NSF as part of its growing effort to strengthen science in schools. The only museum-based center, CILS was established to improve the understanding of how children learn in informal science settings such as museums and zoos and how these techniques can be adapted to a school setting. Significant additional project support for educational technology was provided by the NEC Foundation of America.
Each CILS partner will provide faculty and courses under the Exploratorium's leadership:
- o King's College will enroll 12 doctoral students and two postdoctoral fellows in a fully funded program to pursue issues of learning and teaching in informal settings.
o UCSC will accept up to 21 doctoral students and five postdoctoral fellows into psychology and education programs focused on informal science learning; the Education Department will enroll 19 students in a master's program on informal science education.
o The Exploratorium will coordinate a 120-hour certification program for 140 museum educators to better enable them to support teachers, students, and the general public.
- The Exploratorium, an international leader of the movement to promote museums as educational centers, is a model of how science centers can work directly with schools to enhance science education. It offers teacher development in science content, teaching methods, and technology. Since 1985, the Exploratorium has worked with 81,000 teachers and 450 districts in 37 states. The principal investigator for CILS is Robert Semper, executive associate director of the Exploratorium. Media contact: Linda Dackman (415) 561-0363; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kingâ€™s College London, founded in 1829, is one of the founding colleges of the University of London. It has a distinguished reputation in the sciences, law, humanities, and education, and is the largest center for medical education in Europe. KCLâ€™s School of Education has the highest research ratings of all UK education schools. KCL expertise includes how new technologies impact workplaces and public spaces such as museums. The principal investigator is Richard Duschl, chair of science education at KCL. Media contact: Chris Coe 011 44 207 848 3072; email@example.com
The University of California, Santa Cruz, is a national leader in the natural sciences and is home to the federally funded Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence. Education and psychology faculty focus on issues of diversity in learning and teaching, and the campus has a strong record of research collaboration with school districts. Co-principal investigators on the CILS project are Lynda Goff, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, and Joyce Justus, chair of the UCSC Education Department. Media contact: Jennifer McNulty (831) 459-2495; firstname.lastname@example.org