From my previous blogs you might think that I’ve spent all my time digging in the dirt, riding ferries or shooing birds from my breakfast. For the last 15 weeks I’ve also been on the lecture circuit at universities, research centers and museums in Brisbane and Melbourne to share the lessons learned from activities at Pacific Science Center. I’ve given more than a dozen seminars regarding Portal to the Public, Washington State LASER, learning science in informal environments or the development of new generation science standards in the US.
[Seminar at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)]
Interest in Pacific Science Center’s Portal to the Public activities:
The Science Center’s Portal to the Public effort (http://www.pacsci.org/portal/initiative/) generated much interest from university, research center and museum staff members. Most of the institutions have some form of outreach — either going out to the community (http://www.demotroupe.org/) or bringing students to the campus/organization. Many of them participated in the Science Pavilion at EKKA – see post from October 10th — but there is not a single ongoing location where the public can experience and learn more about the current research and technology occurring in Queensland – such as we provide at Pacific Science Center with our Scientist Spotlight and Research Weekends. For those not familiar with our Portal to the Public effort, a short overview video is available at (http://youtube.com/pacsci).
The most satisfying and culminating event during my time in Brisbane were the two three-hour seminars I offered at the Queensland Museum just before I left.
One seminar was for the Queensland Museum research and public program staff. The second seminar was for scientific and outreach staff from universities and research centers from the area. A key part of the presentation was having participants experience some of the professional development provided to scientists participating in the Portal to the Public Science Communication Fellowship mini-course.
[Building a Common Vision Professional Development Activity]
It was the first time that so many institutions were together at the museum to discuss education outreach regarding current science and technology. The museum is going through a revisioning process and is committed to being a place for the public to learn about the science and technology research occurring in the region. I hope there will be ongoing collaboration with Pacific Science Center regarding whatever effort develops from the revisioning process.
Interest in Washington State LASER activities:
I had the opportunity to work with Education Queensland (the equivalent of OSPI) to share the lessons learned from Pacific Science Center’s eleven-year history co-leading Washington State LASER. For people unfamiliar with LASER’s effort to implement an effective science education program in every school district in Washington State, you can learn more at www.WaStateLASER.org.
The most direct connection with Education Queensland has been with the AU$37.7 million Science Spark initiative (http://education.qld.gov.au/projects/educationviews/news-views/2010/mar/sciencespark-100302.html) that identified 15 regional managers to work with 4th through 7th grade teachers across Queensland. In Queensland, 7th grade is part of the elementary school (called primary school in Australia) and is taught in self-contained classrooms with a single teacher.
Over three years, the Spark Mentors are supposed to work with 100 “primary science facilitators” to provide at least one day of professional development for all 4th through 7th grade teachers – interesting number considering we don’t think 54 hours per teacher over three years is enough. The Science Spark effort is only six-months old, so they are eager to learn about our experiences with science education reform in Washington State.
The most concrete outcome of my involvement with the Science Spark program was the development of a Science Spark logic model that was informed by the Washington State LASER 2.0 logic model.
Now in Sydney:
I am now in Sydney where the first thing to happen was the demise of my computer – which is the reason for the longer than usual delay in producing this new post. I’m still on a borrowed computer, so future posts may also get delayed.
For now it is off to drink coffee and ride a ferry – but hopefully no shooing birds from my food or digging in the dirt.