Lessons Learned by Combining Formal and Informal Science Education at CMMAP

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Scott Denning1, Melissa A Burt1, Brian Jones2 and Randy M Russell3, (1)Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Fort Collins, United States, (2)Colorado State University, Department of Physics, Fort Collins, CO, United States, (3)UCAR, Learning Lab, Boulder, CO, United States
Since 2006, the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) has pursued a vertically-integrated strategy for education and diversity from “K to gray.” We’ve brought a traveling museum-style “informal science education” program to over 200,000 K-12 students and shown that it has a counterintuitive and substantial impact on content knowledge. The tremendous volume of this outreach program has only been possible by including over 100 undergraduate interns, which adds a layer of professional development to their formal education. We’ve also leveraged the “hands-on” informal education program to develop both formal professional development workshops for teachers and new undergraduate courses. So we’re now using hands-on science activities developed by undergraduates for use in grades 5-8 for teaching climate science to undergrads! It’s remarkable how well this integration works. We’ve also extended the approach beyond “hands-on” to “minds-on” experiments based on interactive modules that run inside web browsers. Building on the framework we developed for extending informal science education into formal instruction, we also entrained dozens of students at the largest graduate Atmospheric Science program in the US to provide them with professional development experiences and tracked their matriculation into the professional research and academic workforce. Finally, we’ve extended the informal minds-on techniques to both in-person and online courses offered to retirees and to the public. Combining these forms of outreach leverage direct experience of the nature of science with authentic communication to reach diverse audiences with climate science content.