In the winter 2022 issue of this journal, we are delighted to feature a collection of five project articles, plus a special tribute to Dr. David Ferguson, whose generosity of spirit and commitment to student success touched many within the SENCER community and beyond. This tribute section is introduced by Dr. Eliza Reilly, Executive Director of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.
Steven Bachofer (St. Mary’s College) and Marque Cass (Alameda Point Collaborative) describe a collaboration to develop a community outreach chemistry lab under the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using portable microscale gas chemistry equipment, students at St. Mary’s College recorded an instructional video on how to perform the lab activity, which guided students at the Alameda Point Collaborative Youth Program as they performed the experiment during a shared Zoom meeting. This case study shows how cooperation and creative use of technology was able to create a shared scientific experience despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Jacqueline Curnick and Brandi Janssen, both at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, examine the transfer of scientific knowledge after a science café. These community gatherings provide an opportunity for scientific researchers to engage with the general public in an informal setting. The authors organized two science café series held in rural Iowa, with a focus on environmental health. A qualitative evaluation of the events included a questionnaire and follow-up phone interviews. This evaluation revealed that science café participants shared the information they learned via three main connections—family and friends, professional colleagues, and community groups. This article demonstrates the value of science cafés as a forum for informal scientific outreach to local communities.
David Green (Florida Gulf Coast University) provides a critique of an ecoresort exercise that is a team-based, active learning component of a course on environmental sustainability. After describing the structure and learning goals of the ecoresort activity, the author compares the project design to educational best practices, such as Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning and Merrill’s Principles of Instructional Design. This careful analysis of a SENCER-based instructional module illustrates how the application of teaching and learning principles can be used to enhance educational effectiveness.
What are “funds of knowledge”? Laura B. Liu and Taylor Russell from Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus explore this concept in the context of farming practices. By interviewing participants who have farmed in the U.S. and international regions, the authors reveal interesting connections between farming and culture, such as automatic vs. manual labor These funds of knowledge about farming can be used to inform K–12 curricula and instruction to support multicultural and multilingual learners.
A team of faculty from New York City College of Technology (Diana Samaroo, Liana Tsenova, Sandie Han, and Urmi Ghosh-Dastidar) developed an interdisciplinary biodiversity project to examine the water quality in Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn, NY. Students engaged in authentic civic research by integrating analytical techniques from microbiology, chemistry, and mathematics. After collecting and analyzing their data, students developed their communication skills by presenting their results at conference poster sessions.
We wish to thank all the authors for sharing their scholarly work with the readers of this journal.
Matt Fisher & Trace Jordan
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