Building partnerships with local science museums, such as California Academy of Sciences and Lindsay Wildlife Museum, can add great value to the development of meaningful educational programs. As the project coordinator of Science Lab, I enjoy collaborating with museum education specialists to construct educational content for educator trainings. My role is to provide educators training on shooting and editing video using Flip camcorders to create content for the classroom and introduce PBS and KQED science media resources to enhance science curricula. The science museum education staff and/or STEM coordinators not only offer educational strategies to integrate science skills and processes but also offer the educators access to the animals and exhibits in the museum. I believe the collaboration is what makes Science Lab a strong and unique program for educators.
Connie Loosli, Education Manager at Lindsay Wildlife Museum, also shares my views. “I am a big believer in sharing knowledge and skills with my colleagues. Therefore, I really appreciate a good partnership between organizations with similar goals. This was definitely the case with the professional development partnership between KQED, Contra Costa County Office of Education and Lindsay Wildlife Museum education department. I personally learned so much about using media and technology… I like to feel that my contribution of science content and pedagogy is also beneficial to the participants…Our teacher participants were enthusiastic and came ready to expand their skills and expertise. Thanks to KQED for the opportunity to be part of this.”
Venturing out of the classroom and learning on-site at a museum allows educators to experience science concepts up close and in person. Educators get just as excited as their students do when they are inches away from turkey vultures and gray foxes. With an experiential approach to learning, educators are more engaged and motivated to explore ideas based on their interests.
The most recent cohort of K-3 educators from Contra Costa County was able to use the Lindsay Wildlife Museum as their place of study. Teachers worked in teams to observe, inquire, and film animals. Alexandra and Mary, two third grade teachers from Mt. Diablo school district, were fascinated by the Great Horned Owl and wanted to research its adaptations for their project. They used PBS LearningMedia videos on owls to support their research, interviewed Lindsay Wildlife Museum staff, and used the Flip camcorder to create their final digital media projects. Check out their final project below. Just like learning in the classroom, professional development for educators happens best with purposeful and engaging hands-on experiences.