Full-scale Development: FOSSIL--Fostering Opportunities for Synergistic STEM with Informal Learners
This project from the University of Florida proposes to derive and develop a network and community of practice (CoP) among amateur and professional paleontologists across the country. Should this project be successful, it would put together 40 professional Paleontologist with 23 amateur Paleontology clubs across the country. The advantage of this organization would be to facilitate sharing of specimens (digitally on the web), educating each other, and most important, making the public outreach from each club more effective. While each club has specimens, this network would provide access to over 100 million digitized samples. The web-base for this collection will be managed at the University of Florida under the direction of the PI. The research portion of this project will determine what the essential elements necessary are for effective learning between professionals and amateurs and how the CoP enhances amateur learning and outreach efficacy. The project plan includes a centralized organization to initially form the community of practice, call general meetings, publish newsletters and organized a large meeting at the University of Florida in the coming year. Further, the project team will conduct evaluation on how the project is helping members develop and how the organization can be improved. Educating individuals in the field of paleontology is generally a positive experience. This project will facilitate knowledge building among the individual members of the clubs, which will enhance their perspective and enable them to reach out to members of their communities. The project will be evaluated at every level to ensure that the existing clubs are incorporated into the project and new clubs are welcomed and engaged as well.
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