published October 30, 2009

Symposium on Informal Science Education Experiences Engages College, K-12 Educators

Franklin & Marshall's 4th Annual Science Symposium, focusing on the theme of "Preparing the Undergraduates of Tomorrow: How Informal Science Education Experiences Can Improve College Readiness" continued the Center for Liberal Arts and Society's commitment to advancing the cause of science literacy in the United States. This was the fourth meeting that has been co-sponsored by and planned in connection with SENCER and the NCSCE.

The day's speakers, Dr. David Ucko, Deputy Division Director, Research on Learning in Formal & Informal Settings at the National Science Foundation; and Dr. Alan Friedman, a consultant in museum development and science education, each addressed different aspects of the overarching topic. Ucko discussed "Informal Learning and Synergies with Formal Education: An NSF Perspective," while Friedman followed up with a talk on "What Can Informal Science Education Do for You?"

A lunchtime presentation by four Lancaster area organizations - The North Museum of Natural History & Science; the Lancaster Conservancy; the Lancaster Science Factory; and the National Watch and Clock Museum - was followed by two afternoon breakout sessions. One, hosted by the North Museum, introduced attendees to the museum's Portal to the Public program, a national grant program that increases face-to-face interactions among area scientists and the public. The North Museum staff was also on hand to discuss the role of museums in informal science education from pre-school to college level, using the topic of bones and skeleton structure. The second session, a roundtable discussion for the non-K-12 participants, focused on how to advance the discussion of informal education at the national level.

"This was the very model of a good meeting," said David Burns. "The presentations, available on video with power points, are especially important to the SENCER community. SENCERites will identify in the basic principles of informal learning as the essence of the SENCER approach. We respect the interests of the learner, focus and foreground the relevance and usefulness of learning, and help prepare graduates to be life-long, 'self-directed' learners. I urge our community to view the tapes of the two main presentations. In his, Dave Ucko, deftly and comprehensively covers background and theory. Alan Friedman's offers guidance to faculty and students looking for helpful and reliable resources. I want to thank the Center for Liberal Arts & Society at Franklin & Marshall College for organizing this terrific program."

- From the Center for Liberal Arts and Society. Contact Marcy Dubroff for more information.