4 unexpected places adults can learn science | national news

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Jill zarestky, Colorado State University

(THE CONVERSATION) Modern society benefits when people understand scientific concepts. This knowledge helps explain how cryptocurrency works, why climate change is happening, or how the coronavirus is transmitted from person to person.

Yet the average American spends Less than 5% of their life in classrooms to learn about these topics. So, apart from school, where else can people go to study and explore science?

Museums, zoos, and libraries are definitely a good start. Like a adult education researcher in STEM, I study less conventional ways for people of all ages to learn and participate in science.

Here are four alternative places where the general public can enjoy nature, engage in hands-on science learning, and get a behind-the-scenes look at scientific research in action.

1. National parks

National park visitors significantly increased over the past two years, as the pandemic has prompted people to get out and enjoy nature more regularly. However, people often don’t realize that many parks offer lecture series, nature walks, and interactive science learning opportunities for those who wish to add an extra layer of scientific and environmental knowledge to their outdoor experience. .

For example, Grand canyon national park in Arizona offers Ranger programs who teach the public about the changes taking place in the canyon due to weathering and erosion. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spans Tennessee and North Carolina, offers its own educational programming but also partners with local groups offer guided nature hikes or volunteer trail building opportunities.

For those who do not wish to venture into the great outdoors, the National Parks Service offers a variety of online resources, such as virtual park visits and webcams that feature real-time views of the weather, spectacular scenery, wildlife and more.

Find the nearest national park here.

2. University extension programs

Ceding universities are responsible for translating and disseminating scientific research to the public and exist in each state and territory of the United States.

They often do this through what are called “extension” programs. Master Gardener is popular, but there are also many unique local options. For example, Colorado State University offers a Native bee watch program which trains volunteers to identify and monitor bees in their backyards or in local natural areas. An extension program to University of Minnesota teaches volunteers how to detect invasive aquatic species in local rivers and lakes.

3. Biological stations in the field

Biological stations in the field are usually associated with universities or other research institutes. Although scientific and environmental research is the primary focus, many stations in the field provide programs for adult learners, as well as opportunities to interact directly with scientists.

Field stations tend to be in more rural areas, where there are fewer zoos, museums, aquariums and other places of scientific learning. Yet close 80% of the American population live within an hour’s drive of a biological research station. This card can help you identify one near you.

The WK Kellogg Biological Station in Michigan has a bird sanctuary that offers adult lessons on botany, ornithology and nature drawing, as well as volunteer opportunities. There is also a dairy center which accommodates open house events where visitors can learn about cutting-edge dairy management and research.

For learners who wish to get involved in the scientific process, engage in a longer-term experience or participate in family, Mohonk reserve in upstate New York recruits volunteers to monitor bird activity and habitats, record seasonal changes in plants, and engage in other activities.

4. Marine laboratories

Marine laboratories are similar to biological field stations but are generally located on coasts or other bodies of water.

Oceanographic Institute of the General Directorate of the Port in Florida allows visitors to tour its research facilities and equipment, including a close-up view of its underwater vehicle. It also offers citizen science programs and a weekly lecture series on everything related to ocean science.

In Alaska, the In the wings program provides adults with an overview of the skills and science of managing Sitka Strait Science Center, such as monitoring the genetic interaction of wild and hatchery salmon. Its flagship event, the Sitka Whale Festival, includes scientist-guided wildlife cruises, science lectures and storytelling. For learners around the world, the center hosts a Podcast and offers recorded lessons on how to say the names of local animals in Tlingit, the language of the Sitka tribe.

As people continue to reap the mental and physical benefits to spend more time outdoors, I think it is important to mitigate any damage an additional activity may have on the environment. These four sites can help anyone learn more about the science behind natural spaces and also how to help preserve them.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/4-unexpected-places-where-adults-can-learn-science-169796.

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