SENCER-ISE partners and informal science educators (ISE) had an increased presence at this year’s SENCER Summer Institute (SSI) hosted by the University of North Carolina Asheville. Thirteen SENCER-ISE partners and partnership representatives participated in SSI. A few had been a part of the SENCER community for years, and others were newer to the community and still learning about its practices. All lent their expertise to SSI discussions, both large and small.
SSI participants were provided opportunities to learn about the work done by the SENCER-ISE partnerships and other informal science educators throughout the Institute, including:
- A plenary and follow-up work session focusing on multimedia resources that can be used in the classroom, presented by Sue Ellen McCann and Andrea Aust of the preeminent northern California public media provider KQED, and David Bolt, author of “Digital Divide”;
A work session on cross-sector partnerships between formal and informal institutions, presented by SENCER-ISE partners Dr. Linda Fuselier of Antioch College, Dr. Nellie Tsipoura of the New Jersey Audubon, and Mr. Charlie Walter of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and SENCER-ISE Advisory Board member, Sue Ellen McCann of KQED;
- Concurrent sessions presented by SENCER-ISE partner Steve Bachofer of Saint Mary’s College of California about developing civic engagement course components in conjunction with informal science institutions, with a focus on St. Mary’s partnership with the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, and other individuals working with ISE institutions in their community;
A workshop on exploring the range of local informal science education resources, presented by Dr. Alix Downing Fink of Longwood University, Jim Fox of UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center, SENCER-ISE partner Hank Gruner of the Connecticut Science Center, and Arthur Joura of the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. The workshop also provided an opportunity for faculty members looking to develop partnerships with their local ISEs to brainstorm strategies with the group; and
- Poster presentations by SENCER-ISE partners and other individuals working with informal science education institutions in their community.
Inviting educators from outside the world of academia to the table enriches the learning experiences for students and faculty alike. Using todaysmeet.com, an online discussion forum used by Sue Ellen McCann and Andrea Aust during their plenary, Dr. Juan Zaragoza of Florida Southwestern College stated, “After the SENCER [Summer Institute], the differences between formal and informal education seem to disappear.”