Projects

Educational efforts at the Scott Aquarium, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and the Environmental Studies

End Date: 01/31/06

Abstract

The expanded overarching goal of this proposed effort is to enhance the awareness and understanding of students, teachers, and the general public in both Mississippi and Alabama concerning the importance of the oceans, coastlines, and watersheds to their everyday lives. To achieve this goal will require various implementation strategies to “bridge the gap” between scientists’ research results and the interpretation of those data. The three outreach facilities which will be used for these interpretive efforts are: The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) - Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s (GCRL) - J.L. Scott Marine Education Center (MEC); the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) - Estuarium; and the Mobile County Public School System’s (MCPSS) – Environmental Studies Center (ESC).

The objectives of this effort are to:

  1. provide a more focused and coordinated mission between these three facilities, (to include 2.4 man-month FTE [or 5.2 mm at 0.48 FTE] involvement by the MS Co-PI to coordinate the MASGC educational programs and work with other Sea Grant Network educators) in MS and AL and other coastal and Great Lakes states;
  2. implement formal and informal professional development and/or educational programs for precollege teachers, precollege students, and the general public with additional personnel;
  3. form a unique collaborative by the MEC, the DISL, and the ESC for improved formal and informal programmatic education within the two-state region. Partnerships which have existed for two decades will be enriched through shared marketing and recruitment efforts among precollege teachers and students, as well as the general public; and
  4. develop and maintain instructional resources for implementation of study activities and interactive learning experiences for the targeted audiences through the following programs:
  • the National Ocean Sciences Bowl Hurricane Bowl;
  • the Region VI Science and Engineering Fair in MS;
  • partial travel fees for two Project Marine Discovery (PMD) – Evening At GCRL-MEC presenters;
  • one scholarship, based on the “best of the best” AL State Science and Engineering Fair projects to the summer, Discovery Hall Program (DHP);
  • the ESC will routinely maintain and care for living exhibitry, as well as maintaining its nature trails and outdoor study stations; and f) enhancing select exhibits.

Implementation will encompass formal and informal education programs which include:

  1. professional development efforts for precollege teachers, precollege students, and the general public;
  2. exciting and engaging lectures to increase content knowledge for teachers and students;
  3. augmented teaching strategies for use by participating teachers in their own classrooms; and
  4. hands-on activities involving:
  • collecting and sampling, through seining, sieving, making plankton tows;
  • testing water quality;
  • sampling the soil; and/or
  • collecting plants.

A combination of these informal lectures and the re-enforcement of these lectures through informal field activities – should empower these audiences to better understand research data, measurements, analyses, prediction, and the interpretation of data. Formative and summative evaluations implemented by an external evaluator, i.e. cognitive achievement pre- and posttests and attitudinal achievement through Likert-scale surveys will be administered by all three facilities for professional development program participants. Precollege students in select programs will be given pre- and posttests. For informal education field trips, Likert-scale evaluations will be completed only by the participating teachers relative to their perceptions and grade-level content appropriateness concerning to programmatic value. Further, impacts, activities, and anticipated outcomes and impacts will be determined using a Logic Model.

The rationale being proposed for this unique, bi-state collaborative will enhance the awareness and understanding of coastal ecosystems by precollege teachers and students, as well as the general public through inquiry-based programs that encourage and promote hands-on experimentation, observation, discovery, prediction, problem solving, and appreciation of the natural world... to “bridge the gap” between research data and the interpretation of those data concerning the relevance of the oceans, coasts, and watersheds to our everyday lives.

Objectives

  1. To provide a more focused and coordinated mission between these three facilities.
  2. To implement formal and informal professional development and/or educational programs for precollege teachers, precollege students, and the general public with additional personnel.
  3. To develop and maintain instructional resources for implementation of study activities and interactive learning experiences for the targeted audiences.
  4. To form a unique collaborative for improved formal and informal programmatic education within the two-state region. 

Methodology

Implementation will encompass formal and informal education programs which include: 1) professional development efforts for precollege teachers, precollege students, and the general public; 2) exciting and engaging lectures to increase content knowledge for teachers and students; 3) augmented teaching strategies for use by participating teachers in their own classrooms; and 4) hands-on activities involving: a) collecting and sampling, through seining, sieving, making plankton tows; b) testing water quality; c) sampling the soil; and/or d) collecting plants. Formative and summative evaluations, through Likert-scale surveys will be administered by all three facilities for professional development program participants.

Rationale

This unique, bi-state collaborative will enhance the awareness and understanding of coastal ecosystems by precollege teachers and students, as well as the general public through inquiry-based programs that encourage and promote hands-on experimentation, observation, discovery, prediction, problem solving, and appreciation of the natural world.