In Search of Earth's Secrets: A Community-Driven Traveling Exhibit as a Mechanism for Building a STEM Learning Ecosystem

Poster Session Part of Wednesday Poster Session


Sharon Cooper, Columbia University in the City of New York
Jon Lewis, Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus

Since 2018, the traveling exhibit, In Search of Earth's Secrets has toured the United States to share cutting edge Earth science content in collaboration with the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and partnerships with local host learning communities. It consists of six interactive kiosks, a large inflatable, walk-through replica of the JOIDES Resolution scientific ocean drilling vessel with a multi-media show inside, a large walk-on map of the ocean floor, and associated graphics.

While providing family and community learning opportunities, it has also worked deliberately with Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, 4H and other youth-serving organizations to provide training to serve as STEM docents interacting with the public. Throughout its tour, Earth's Secrets has offered IODP scientists opportunities to share their work with broader and often-underserved communities. The project has catalyzed numerous engagement nodes in a growing STEM learning ecosystem that is providing entry points for young people, scientists, families, libraries and communities to engage with current and on-going federally-funded science. Its co-creation model allows the host learning communities to shape how they use the exhibit and its associated resources and this has led to the strengthening of local intra-community connections. Working with local museums and libraries has allowed workers at these community institutions to engage meaningfully with both content and the science communication process, and grow their understanding of Earth science while providing new resources to their communities. The multi-generational teams that have come together to host In Search of Earth's Secrets have consistently and meaningfully deepened their working relationships within the community.