Pathways: From The Lab To The Neighborhood: An Interactive Living Exhibit For Advancing STEM Engagement With Urban Systems In Science Museums

Sunday, September 1, 2013 to Friday, September 30, 2016
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Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Museum and Science Center Programs, Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Youth/Teen (up to 17) | General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Ecology, forestry, and agriculture | Geoscience and geography | Life science | Nature of science
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Loyola Marymount University, Clark University, EcoTarium

This initiative is a collaboration of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the EcoTarium science museum in Worcester, MA, other scientists and teachers at Clark University in Massachusetts and at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, along with six other museums in New England and California. The project seeks to develop and study a model that would integrate the science research on urban systems into science museum exhibits and programs, starting in this phase in a new "City Science" exhibit space at the EcoTarium. The goal is to learn how to assist citizens in decision-making and shaping a sustainable future for their communities. The work builds on the NSF/SBS-funded Urban Long-term Research Area Exploratory (ULTRA-Ex) network, one of a set of awards by NSF/SBS and NSF/BIO in the area of urban ecology. The exhibit (with four sections: neighborhood design; land use and land cover; urban biodiversity; urban heat island effect) will include activities related to "alternative futures" of cities, will be designed to be updated as new results from this research are produced and also to allow for visitors to respond to survey questions about their city environment that will be used by the researchers. Deliverables will also include an integration of the prototype exhibits with an NSF-funded K-12 urban ecology curriculum (co-PI from Loyola Marymount University), which has already been done with nature centers and would now expand into science museums. The significance of this work includes the growing importance of new research on human/ecology interaction in cities coupled with applications of this research to Public Participation in Science Research (PPSR) and local decisions and choices. It is driven by the future vision of the cities in which the target audience(s) is located. The work in Worcester will focus on reaching underserved audiences, which characterizes much of the city of Worcester, and will include partnerships with local schools and community groups.

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Team Members

Robert RyanRobert RyanPrincipal Investigator
Eric StraussEric StraussCo-Principal Investigator
Colin PolskyColin PolskyCo-Principal Investigator
Alexander GoldowskyAlexander GoldowskyFormer Co-Principal Investigator
Paige WarrenPaige WarrenCo-Principal Investigator
Betsy LoringBetsy LoringCo-Principal Investigator

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