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Communicating Ocean Science for Informal Audiences (COSIA) PDF Print E-mail

Courses: 628:307 and 712:592

Taught by:
Professor Scott Glenn
Janice McDonnell, Educator

The goal of the course is to help science majors become more aware of K-12 and public science education. By taking this course students will:

  • be introduced to the importance of K-12 education, public outreach and the "Broader Impact" of their future work as ocean scientists;
  • gain practical experience at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, in established communication techniques and pedagogy.

Draft Session Outline

calendar_view_week.pngSession 1: Communicating Ocean Science
This session will introduce students to informal science education. What is it? What are we doing in this class? Students will receive all relevant information about class requirements including a mandatory practical experience at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ.
This session begins with students sharing and discussing their ideas about what is ocean science and what should be included in teaching ocean science. The goals of the course and the rationale for teaching ocean science, including its interdisciplinary nature are discussed.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 3: Teaching and Learning
The session begins with students accessing prior information about teaching and learning by thinking back on how different teaching approaches affected them as learners. They are challenged to think about a model for how people learn which can be used to structure learning in a museum, aquarium, or science center.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 4: Building Towards Inquiry
This session starts with an overview of the essential features of inquiry–what it looks like in a museum, science center or aquarium, how it is reflected in exhibits, programs, and the educational advantage of student-driven learning incorporating subtle shifts towards inquiry.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 5: Blank Slates or Clever Minds
The session begins with a discussion that encourages students to think about how people learn and change their ideas. Students will brainstorm methods and strategies for dealing with learners misconceptions and are offered further ideas about how to set-up effective learning situations.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 6: Questioning Strategies
In this session, students learn how a teacher’s approach can influence the types of question s/he asks students. The class is then introduced to the idea of using a questions "map" to lead successful discussions.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 7: Epistomology
Students discuss what is knowledge, how do people acquire knowledge and how do people “know"?

calendar_view_week.pngSession 8: Designing a Lesson
In this session, student practice planning lessons incorporating the many concepts addressed. They are then given a list of ocean science concepts to review and discuss. They are challenged to choose one of the concepts and to come up with a hands-on activity designed to get Liberty Science Center visitors to question these misconceptions about the concept.

  • Visitors might study the adaptations of a hermit crab, then be challenged to examine adaptations of other organisms during their visit.
  • Others might investigate sand from around the world to learn how to find evidence in the sand of its origins. They could then attempt to sleuth out the origins of various sands they encounter in tanks throughout the aquarium.
  • They might investigate adaptations of birds living in wetlands, then examine wetland birds in an exhibit, focusing on these adaptations.
  • They might focus on fish form and function, then analyze form and function in fish throughout the aquarium. They might learn about density and global ocean currents or the complexities of managing world fisheries.
The session ends with a discussion about ocean misconceptions they have encountered or that they think others have.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 9: Assessment
In this session, the instructor provides participants with information about testing and assessment. The discussion focuses on the conclusion that different kinds of tests test for different kinds of knowledge–and both kinds are important. Students learn that current educational practice strives for a balance of a variety of testing methods.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 10: Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
This session delves into the realm of diversity and how to address the needs of all visitors to aquaria, science centers, and museums. The emphasis in this session is on language acquisition and developmental issues.

calendar_view_week.pngSession 11: Field Trip TBA

calendar_view_week.pngSession 12-14: Students Present Their Designed Lessons