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Math in Zoos and Aquariums (MiZA)
Presentation Overview <ul><li>Project Overview </li></ul><ul><li>Findings pertinent to professional development for inform...
Project Goals <ul><li>Use mathematical learning as a tool to deepen the learning and experience of zoo and aquarium visito...
Project Assumptions <ul><li>Expand the use of living collections as teaching tools for concepts of conservation </li></ul>...
Project Assumptions, continued <ul><li>Mathematical reasoning about animal identification and behavior can support people’...
Project Context <ul><li>Began in 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Limited professional development opportunities for informal educat...
Project Details <ul><li>21 workshops across US and Canada </li></ul><ul><li>Reached over 400 staff members and 124 institu...
Workshop Goals <ul><li>Help educators connect math and conservation to enhance programming </li></ul><ul><li>Math “learner...
Workshop Structure <ul><li>Establish reason for math as a focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broader definition of math </li></ul...
Workshop Structure <ul><li>Final action plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose one activity to customize and implement </li></u...
Activities <ul><li>“Guess My Animal” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Twenty Questions-type game using data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><l...
Activities <ul><li>“Be an Animal Scientist” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observing animals and recording behavioral data </li></u...
Activities <ul><li>“Finders/Keepers” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simulated fishing activity using paper fish </li></ul></ul><ul>...
Customization <ul><li>Workshop success contingent upon successful implementation of activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Model...
Evaluation <ul><li>Evaluation conducted by Garibay Group </li></ul><ul><li>Designed according to IMLS Logic Model </li></u...
Evaluation Approach <ul><li>Mixed methods approach (Green and Caracelli, 2002; Johnson & Turner, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Q...
Key Results- Short Term <ul><li>Increased math knowledge and confidence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3.34 out of 6 raised to 5.28...
Key Results – Short Term <ul><li>60% of participants implemented one or more activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be an Animal...
Key Results – Short Term <ul><li>Reasons people didn’t implement an activity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough time (70%) <...
Professional Impact <ul><li>Results measured after implementation and 6-12 months after workshop </li></ul><ul><li>Majorit...
Professional Impact <ul><li>79% indicated increased understanding of how math and conservation relate </li></ul><ul><li>82...
Factors influencing outcomes <ul><li>Both individual and organizational factors influenced participant outcomes </li></ul>...
Individual Factors <ul><li>Goal-oriented participants were more likely to implement activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consi...
 
Organizational Factors <ul><li>These conclusions were drawn mostly from interview data </li></ul><ul><li>Staff from both s...
 
Implications for the Field <ul><li>Focus on easily adaptable activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Activities will be more like...
Acknowledgments <ul><li>MiZA Staff  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laura Martin, Andee Rubin, Jan Mokros, Tracey Wright, Gabby Hebe...
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Making the Argument for Learning Science in Informal Environments - Math in zoos and aquariums

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Making the Argument for Learning Science in Informal Environments
Level: Intermediate

Demonstrating evidence of learning is becoming critical for museums in securing funding. Yet most evaluation measures do not reflect what goes on in informal environments. The National Academy’s recently summarized research on informal science learning, helping museum professionals make the case for programs. We will review that report (Martin, Arizona Science Center, was a co-author); findings from a national staff development project headed by the Phoenix Zoo (Hebert); and, findings from a visitor survey about conservation learning, conducted at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Colodner).
The report is important because it broadens the definition of science learning to include motivation, interest, and identity. The Phoenix Zoo project looked at how different institutions supported staff to integrate mathematics into interpretation and how differences in motivation for participating in training influenced staff learning. The Desert Museum conducted a survey on learning about conservation through interactions with docents, looking at changes in visitor knowledge and intentions. Their results allowed them to reflect on the types of interactions they are facilitating.
Discussion will highlight whether the ideas apply to learning in other kinds of museums. Naylor (Arizona Department of Education) represents the stakeholder voice, justifying field trips and other informal programs as valid educational experiences.

Chair: Mary Lou Naylor, Education Program Specialist, Arizona Department of Education
Panelists: Laura Martin, Director of Science Interpretation, Arizona Science Center; Gabrielle Hebert, Director of Visitor Experiences, The Phoenix Zoo; Debra Colodner, Director of Education, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Published in: Education, Technology
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Making the Argument for Learning Science in Informal Environments - Math in zoos and aquariums

  1. 1. Math in Zoos and Aquariums (MiZA)
  2. 2. Presentation Overview <ul><li>Project Overview </li></ul><ul><li>Findings pertinent to professional development for informal educators </li></ul>
  3. 3. Project Goals <ul><li>Use mathematical learning as a tool to deepen the learning and experience of zoo and aquarium visitors </li></ul><ul><li>Provide tools for informal educators through professional development </li></ul>
  4. 4. Project Assumptions <ul><li>Expand the use of living collections as teaching tools for concepts of conservation </li></ul><ul><li>Mathematical explorations could support visitor engagement with conservation </li></ul><ul><li>Zoos and aquariums can be a motivating context in which to highlight technical work and demonstrate how mathematics is applied in the real world </li></ul>
  5. 5. Project Assumptions, continued <ul><li>Mathematical reasoning about animal identification and behavior can support people’s understanding and caring about animals </li></ul><ul><li>Involvement in these activities could lead to concern and empathy about animals and lead to further interest in the math and science of animals </li></ul>
  6. 6. Project Context <ul><li>Began in 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Limited professional development opportunities for informal educators </li></ul><ul><li>Successful model of Math Momentum in Science Centers project </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Support participants first as math “learners,” then as “facilitators” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide structure and support for participants to customize tools </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Project Details <ul><li>21 workshops across US and Canada </li></ul><ul><li>Reached over 400 staff members and 124 institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Full-day workshop with individual follow- up by project staff </li></ul><ul><li>Website with tools </li></ul>
  8. 8. Workshop Goals <ul><li>Help educators connect math and conservation to enhance programming </li></ul><ul><li>Math “learners” first, then “facilitators” </li></ul><ul><li>Activities presented in a relevant context </li></ul><ul><li>Activities and support designed for customization and ease of implementation </li></ul>
  9. 9. Workshop Structure <ul><li>Establish reason for math as a focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broader definition of math </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How mathematical thinking progresses through development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why math learning is important </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Three math activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the activity and reflect on personal learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Group discussion to connect math to conservation and activity within institutional context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small group work to begin customizing activity </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Workshop Structure <ul><li>Final action plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose one activity to customize and implement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Begin thinking through steps, obstacles, resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set tentative timeline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turn in plan to workshop staff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Follow-up by project staff </li></ul>
  11. 11. Activities <ul><li>“Guess My Animal” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Twenty Questions-type game using data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sort and categorize data through numerical reasoning and logic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use observation skills, exploring biodiversity and adaptations </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Activities <ul><li>“Be an Animal Scientist” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observing animals and recording behavioral data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compile and analyze data </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Activities <ul><li>“Finders/Keepers” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simulated fishing activity using paper fish </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fish are measured and compared to chart to determine if they are “keepers” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show how linear measurement is used in fish management </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Customization <ul><li>Workshop success contingent upon successful implementation of activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Model activity in zoo setting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion focused on different ways to modify based on collections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning guides and planning time helped participants prepare </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow-up from MiZA staff provided extra guidance </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Evaluation <ul><li>Evaluation conducted by Garibay Group </li></ul><ul><li>Designed according to IMLS Logic Model </li></ul><ul><li>Three main goals guided the evaluation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased confidence in ability to incorporate math </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased ability to see connection among math, science, and conservation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Successful implementation of one workshop activity </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Evaluation Approach <ul><li>Mixed methods approach (Green and Caracelli, 2002; Johnson & Turner, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Quantitative and qualitative data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-workshop paper survey </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post-workshop paper survey </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In-depth phone interviews (two rounds, 14 total) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online survey at end of project (55% response rate) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debrief data from follow-up calls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workshop observations </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Key Results- Short Term <ul><li>Increased math knowledge and confidence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3.34 out of 6 raised to 5.28 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lessons learned during workshop: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gained ideas for incorporating math concepts into programming (N = 111) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expanded concepts about what math is and how it can be applied (N=47) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Found that math concepts are easy to incorporate (N = 24) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gained ideas about math activities that are animal-specific (N = 20) </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Key Results – Short Term <ul><li>60% of participants implemented one or more activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be an Animal Scientist – 45% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guess My Animal – 38% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finders/Keepers – 17% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Challenges identified </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivating other staff members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding time to prepare/adapt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration into existing programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adapting for specific age groups </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Key Results – Short Term <ul><li>Reasons people didn’t implement an activity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough time (70%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inflexible curriculum (17%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Activities did not fit with organizational goals (17%) </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Professional Impact <ul><li>Results measured after implementation and 6-12 months after workshop </li></ul><ul><li>Majority said that MiZA increased their understanding of math, data, measurement, and logic. </li></ul><ul><li>22% said the most significant concept was a change in their perception of what math is and how to use it. Math: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>can be fun and subtle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can be implemented in creative ways </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can be adapted to a variety of topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>is part of everything </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Professional Impact <ul><li>79% indicated increased understanding of how math and conservation relate </li></ul><ul><li>82% indicated that implementing activities positively impacted their ability to integrate math </li></ul><ul><li>80% indicated their new math activities had a positive influence on engaging audiences more deeply </li></ul><ul><li>80% stated that MiZA was professionally valuable </li></ul><ul><li>87% would likely participate in additional projects </li></ul><ul><li>85% would recommend MiZA </li></ul>
  22. 22. Factors influencing outcomes <ul><li>Both individual and organizational factors influenced participant outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Exploration of these factors could have influence on professional development for the field </li></ul>
  23. 23. Individual Factors <ul><li>Goal-oriented participants were more likely to implement activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistent with Activity Framework Theory (Davydov, 1999) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mental goal will influence meaning made from a learning activity or event </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Speed and ease of customization meant more likely to implement </li></ul>
  24. 25. Organizational Factors <ul><li>These conclusions were drawn mostly from interview data </li></ul><ul><li>Staff from both small and large institutions were able to implement activities, but for different reasons </li></ul><ul><li>Institution size offers various advantages and disadvantages </li></ul>
  25. 27. Implications for the Field <ul><li>Focus on easily adaptable activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Activities will be more likely implemented if they can be customized to organizational goals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Support structure for implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Help participants identify and link activities to existing programming </li></ul><ul><li>Address organizational structure issues before workshops </li></ul>
  26. 28. Acknowledgments <ul><li>MiZA Staff </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Laura Martin, Andee Rubin, Jan Mokros, Tracey Wright, Gabby Hebert </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IMLS </li></ul><ul><li>New England Aquarium </li></ul><ul><li>Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo </li></ul><ul><li>Garibay Group </li></ul>

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