1. Jedda Foreman
  2. Broad Implementation of a Professional Learning Model for Outdoor Science Programs
  3. http://beetlesproject.org/
  4. Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California Berkeley
  1. Kevin Beals
  2. Director
  3. Broad Implementation of a Professional Learning Model for Outdoor Science Programs
  4. http://beetlesproject.org/
  5. Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California Berkeley, Beetles Project
  1. Kathryn Quigley
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathryn-chong-quigley-786b6943/
  3. Learning Media Producer
  4. Broad Implementation of a Professional Learning Model for Outdoor Science Programs
  5. http://beetlesproject.org/
  6. Lawrence Hall of Science
  1. Craig Strang
  2. Principle Investigator
  3. Broad Implementation of a Professional Learning Model for Outdoor Science Programs
  4. http://beetlesproject.org/
  5. Lawrence Hall of Science
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: William Spitzer

    William Spitzer

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 08:00 a.m.

    i love the idea of "taking kids outdoors is the secret weapon of science education" and finding ways to increase the quality of science learning for programs that already have kids in an outdoor setting.

    I was curious about what have been the biggest challenges you have encountered in working with outdoor program leaders, in terms of helping them become better science facilitators. How does this audience compare with working with classroom teachers?

     

     

  • Icon for: Jedda Foreman

    Jedda Foreman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:53 a.m.

    Hi, William, 

    Good questions! In many ways, this audience is much more nimble than working with district or school administrators within the formal education system--the program leaders we work with are, for the most part, able to quickly make decisions around professional learning, curriculum, observation protocols, etc. As a result, we've seen significant change much, much faster than our projects that focus on classroom teachers. 

    I think the big challenge has been a mindset shift for the field-- for the most part, there have not been a lot of high-quality, research-based, student-centered, and nature-centered resources for informal outdoor science organizations, and many of the organizations around the country have been working in relative isolation. We are really challenging people's basic ideas about teaching, the role of playing games, the role of lecture, as well as what it means to have a learning community, to develop growth mindset amongst educators, etc. Folks have mostly really embraced the BEETLES resources, but the challenge has been to make sure the change is long-lasting, both for the individual organizations, but, more importantly, for the field, which means new ways to network, collaborate, and share best practices across organizations. 

     
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    William Spitzer
    Claire Pillsbury
  • Icon for: Craig Strang

    Craig Strang

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:38 p.m.

    Hey, Billy. Thanks for watching our video. As Jedda says, it has been so rewarding working with the outdoor science education community, especially those running residential outdoor science programs that are so memorable and have such an impact on learners already. They do a great job at connecting kids to nature, character education, social/emotional learning, but haven't had access to research or resources related to science learning. Best part? A bunch of the residential outdoor science schools and other outdoor science programs are... coastal and marine!

  • Icon for: William Spitzer

    William Spitzer

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2018 | 07:54 a.m.

    Thanks Craig, this is such a great project and a really nice model for professional development and capacity building. I'd love to read more about your research/evaluation results.

  • Icon for: Jedda Foreman

    Jedda Foreman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:13 a.m.

    Thanks for checking out our video! 

    The goal of the BEETLES project is to increase the quality and capacity of outdoor science education organizations nationally. BEETLES is a “change agent,” providing a range of resources and technical assistance to inspire and support improvement in outdoor science education. We build relationships with educators and leaders, and create a wide variety of resources to address the particular needs of this effective, under-resourced field. In addition to leading immersive professional learning experiences, BEETLES also develops, tests and shares (for free!): a) professional learning sessions that leaders conduct with their staff; b) student activities for instructors; and c) other tools that help educators infuse learning theory into their programs to make them more learner-centered, nature-centered, discussion-oriented and culturally relevant.

    We'd love to hear from you all! What kinds of outdoor science experiences have you had? How do you think outdoor science can impact formal education systems and vice-versa?

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 14, 2018 | 11:53 a.m.

    I love this.  

    My experience with outdoor education is that it's real hard for the instructor/leader not to tell the students things, and also to admit that they don't know things.  Being outdoors is a great setting to make friends with your igniorance!

    How do you help outdoor instructors get a gut-feel for the "learning cycle" approach?

     

  • Icon for: Jedda Foreman

    Jedda Foreman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 12:45 p.m.

    Hey Brian, 

    Yes! That's our experience, too! Lots of "drag and brag" or "fact vomiting". As you mention, we encourage all of the educators we work with to ask questions of their students that they, themselves, don't already know the answer to! Learning alongside your students is such a powerful modeling experience!

    All of our professional learning experiences, including the one on the learning cycle, are designed so that educators go through an adult experience that mirrors the best practices that we're trying to encourage them to use--in other words, no lecturing about why not to lecture. You can check out session on the learning cycle, called Teaching & Learning,  if you want, including the write-up, the slides, and a video of us teaching it. Throughout the session, the participants are thinking about how to teach about lichen, they experience a more instructor-centered way of teaching about it, then spend time thinking about different ways to organize the activity that better reflects a positive learning experience they've had, then they experience our learning cycle-based Lichen Exploration activity, and finally have time to do some planning on their own. However, we don't expect that any of our professional learning sessions will completely change instructor practice on their own, so we also have a list of follow-up activities that we hope program leaders lead with the staff, including 1:1 observations and coaching, staff discussions on questions related to the learning cycle, etc. 

    In general, we really recommend that educators use some materials that are designed using the learning cycle, BEETLES activities or otherwise, so that they get that gut feeling before they do any major activity revisions or try to create their own activities. 

    Do you have experience teaching educators about the learning cycle, as well? What have you had success with?

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 10:25 a.m.

    Thanks for a very full answer, Jedda.

         I think in our projects, we've not used anything like the learning cycle as such.  I tend to want to emphasize the idea that the scientist is a question-seeker, at least as much as a question answerer; and that questions drive the rest of the inquiry — yuo clearly are "on" that as well.    So a docent or teacher should make sure to help their students get a feeling for why something is puzzling or exciting — and so why questions might arise.... Giving them a chance to experience doing some research that they design for themselves can be a big help in changing pedagogy. 

     
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    Jedda Foreman
  • Icon for: Jedda Foreman

    Jedda Foreman

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:22 p.m.

    Yep, I'd say we're definitely on the same page, Brian. And our professional learning materials aim to give educators that feeling as well, so that they are more motivated to then make sure they create opportunities for students to feel that excitement, curiosity, wonder, etc. 

  • Icon for: Claire Pillsbury

    Claire Pillsbury

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 01:52 p.m.

    Great to see inquiry in action outside and scientific thinking taught as a dialogue.  This feels like a copacetic amalgam of NPS interpretive techniques with informal STEM strategies.  Have you had interest from park/nature preserve staff in how this project brings new techniques to biology/ecosystem education and possibly their practices and programs?

  • Icon for: Jedda Foreman

    Jedda Foreman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:13 p.m.

    Hi, Claire,

    Yep, we have had interest and participation from park and nature preserve folks. While we started out just focusing on residential outdoor science programs, we quickly realized that lots of nature center, interpretation, NPS, etc, folks were using our materials and eager to attend an Institute. With the broad implementation award from NSF, we've been able to strategically reach a much broader audience. Although national parks programs tend to be a little slower to change than some of the other informal systems we've worked with (see my comment above in response to William), I think we've still seen shifts in interpreter practice from more instructor-centered to more learner-centered. 

     
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    Claire Pillsbury
  • Icon for: Maia Binding

    Maia Binding

    Curriculum Developer
    May 14, 2018 | 06:17 p.m.

    Hi Jedda et al., Great project, and it's fun to learn more about what you have been doing with it. I'm curious to know what areas you have struggled in...are their audiences you originally wanted to reach that you haven't been able to? Or particular geographic regions? Or groups working with particular age ranges that aren't as open to what you're doing? What have your big challenges been?

  • Icon for: Jedda Foreman

    Jedda Foreman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 08:02 p.m.

    Hey Maia, 

    Thanks for checking out the video! There have definitely been some geographic areas that we've struggled to reach; you can see the areas that we've had a harder time reaching out to on this map of all of our partners. We definitely have a lot of representation from the coasts, but we're missing the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, west Texas), a strip of Plains states (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas), and we'd love to reach more programs in the South. 

    Age ranges and audiences haven't really been a challenge; if anything, there's more demand than we're able to fulfil. Most of our activities for students are focused on middle school, as that is the bulk of the students that attend residential outdoor science experience, but interest in nature preschools and nature experiences for elementary students as well as for high school students is certainly growing and we wish we had more model activities for a wider age range of students. Similarly, while we originally created resources for residential programs, we've had increasing demand from schools, nature centers, national parks, etc. In an ideal world, we'd be able to create customized resources for all different kinds of outdoor science experiences. 

    Thinking about other challenges, we've definitely had resistance from some individuals about changing instructor practices or students missing out on favorite games/stories/traditions, but more often than not, our biggest resistors end up being our staunchest supporters after going through some productive struggle. 

    I think, unlike working with teachers and in formal education systems, the field of environmental education/outdoor science has been so resource-deprived that folks have been really excited and receptive to try out our materials and, then have noticed significant changes in how the learners respond.  

  • Icon for: Craig Strang

    Craig Strang

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:56 p.m.

    Hi, Maia, I'll add on to what Jedda said. There is another audience that we are trying hard to reach--community based organizations, youth development programs and environmental justice programs that regularly take people outside but don't consider their main mission to be outdoor science learning, and who don't self-identify as environmental educators. These programs routinely work in and with black, brown and Native American communities. We have some funding parallel to our NSF Broad Implementation grant to establish new partnerships, improve equity, inclusion and cultural relevance in outdoor science programs, and to promote the hiring and advancement of people of color in this mostly white field. It has been a privilege to learn about the work of organizations in California like Youth Outside, YES Nature to Neighborhoods, Crissy Field Center, Latino Outdoors, Breakthrough Communities, Outdoor Afro, etc.

     
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    Claire Pillsbury
  • Icon for: Kevin Beals

    Kevin Beals

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 10:38 a.m.

    Hi Maia - I'll add on a bit more to what Jedda and Craig have said. One of our biggest challenges is a tendency for folks to want to take shortcuts. For example, instead of providing their staff with the full experience of one of our professional learning sessions, they may just present selected parts. The same is true for our student activities, when instructors teach abridged versions. Meaningful learning is a process that takes time and experiences, and we've carefully crafted all our resources to be impactful, and we've tested them extensively with many different audiences, but less savy users may not recognize the importance of the components of a meaningful learning experience, and can make them less effective by cutting out or altering parts. Some instructors don't want to have to carefully read and follow a write-up, or want to "make an activity their own" the first time they teach it. Over and over again, we strongly recommend that educators follow the write-up as written for at least the first few times they teach it, to get a feel for the flow and impact, before making modifications. The art of instruction is challenging enough to keep any instructor growing throughout their entire career, and to become effective instructors, folks have to recognize and embrace this challenge with humility. 

  • Icon for: Maia Binding

    Maia Binding

    Curriculum Developer
    May 16, 2018 | 11:49 a.m.

    Thanks, all! It's always interesting to hear what the challenges are in projects, and how people are working to overcome them. In some ways the challenges seem similar no matter what areas of education we work in or where we do our work. Thanks for being so willing to share!

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Senior Director of Communications
    May 14, 2018 | 09:50 p.m.

    Lovely video--makes me want to be a kid participating in BEETLES. When I was a kid growing up in the Berkeley area, I didn't experience anything like that but I would have loved it. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the great work. I enjoyed your connection between wonder and science, and curiosity and observation. Although our project is indoors (Bird Cams) we see much of the same potential for curiosity and observation to open up a whole world of inquiry. Thank you for the links to your resources; I am interested in checking them out as we develop our project.

  • Icon for: Jedda Foreman

    Jedda Foreman

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 12:04 a.m.

    Thanks, Miyoko. I'm excited to check out your work with Bird Cams. One of our partners got very excited about using birds and bird videos as a way to get kids curious about nature and excited about arguing from evidence. You can check out a blog post he wrote about birding on our website. We also have an activity on Bird Language in which students make observations about bird vocalizations and behavior. Maybe something you can use in your project?

  • Icon for: Craig Strang

    Craig Strang

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:05 p.m.

    Hi, Miyoko. Also, one of our favorite outdoor science programs using BEETLES resources is The Bird School Project www.birdschoolproject.org in Santa Cruz, California.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Senior Director of Communications
    May 15, 2018 | 10:09 p.m.

    Jedda, thanks for the links--I loved the blog post about birding, and the wonderful video of the students debating the identity of the Acorn Woodpecker. I was especially excited to read that the kids use the Merlin Bird ID app, which we developed with NSF AISL funding. Thank you for these resources--I feel like I have discovered a gold mine! Craig, thanks for the link to the Bird School Project. My family had the pleasure of hosting co-founder Darrow for a meal at our home a few years ago, but we had since lost touch. I'm happy to see from the website that the project is thriving!

  • Icon for: Julianne Mueller-Northcott

    Julianne Mueller-Northcott

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:30 a.m.

    This video was so timely for me! Just yesterday I was helping out with a field trip to a local pond and helping kindergarten students collect and identify macroinverts. As a high school teacher, I really was blown away by these 5 year olds. They were so excited by each dragonfly larvae we found and the fact that they could match the organism to a picture. They loved all of the tools that they got to use and so were so eager to share their findings with all of their classmates.  They asked amazing questions "Why do they live in the water when they are a baby?" "Why does this one look different from that one?" "Why did we find more over there than here?" I was so impressed but also spent some time reflecting on the difference that I see when I take high school students out into the field. I find it it is much more a challenge to get my high schoolers to open up and take risks by asking questions, wondering and being curious when we are in the middle of a field experience. From your work, do you have any tips to help get slightly older students to recapture that spirit of wonder and curiosity? 

  • Icon for: Craig Strang

    Craig Strang

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:16 p.m.

    Hello, Julianne. Thanks for watching our video. Your question is exactly the one we are focused on trying to answer! Those Kindergartners are at the peek of their scientific capabilities, and then it seems that our schooling slowly drains it out of them a little at a time each year. I think we train our students that science is really more about memorizing and knowing right answers, and that being curious, experiencing wonder/awe, and asking both investigable and imponderable questions is only for the littles! The BEETLES Project is focused on developing resources for approximately middle school age students, the age when many kids decide that science is not for them, and the age that is the target audience of most residential outdoor science schools. We've had many educators that work with high school students tell us that they can use or easily adapt many of our activities for their slightly older students. They can also provide learning-cycle-based, student-centered, nature-centered models to use when you are developing your own field activities. We would really be happy to have you take a look at our resources, try out one or two, and give us some feedback about how they work. We'd like to know what we can do to support high school teachers. Maybe our next NSF proposal...??!!

     
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    Claire Pillsbury
  • Icon for: Kevin Beals

    Kevin Beals

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:52 p.m.

    Hi Julianne -

    We're born to be curious, and it seems like somehow we lose touch with that curiosity over the years. But it's there even in the most jaded teenager just below the surface, and everyone enjoys it when they get into a curious state.  Our most "viral" activity, I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of, is a pretty short but impactful tone-set that, if led as written, including the Inquiry Fever piece, gives students "curiosity tools" to help them access their innate curiosity, and to direct it at whatever they want.  It kind of unscrews the lid on their curiosity, and lets that curiosity explode out into the world. The activity gets them revved up, then we use it as a routine throughout an experience with whatever they are doing and whatever they come across. We've used it with all ages. It's free on our website (beetlesproject.org) and there's also a video of students doing it there. 

    Kevin

     
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    Claire Pillsbury
  • Icon for: Julianne Mueller-Northcott

    Julianne Mueller-Northcott

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 02:00 p.m.

    I will definitely check it out-thank you!

  • Icon for: Jan Heiderer

    Jan Heiderer

    Communications Coordinator, GLOBE Implementation Office
    May 16, 2018 | 01:13 a.m.

    Great video Jedda! Love the soundtrack too... is it original? Your video and mine are similar. Please have a look at http://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentatio...

  • Icon for: Kevin Beals

    Kevin Beals

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 07:34 a.m.

    Hi Jan - Yes the music is original, a benefit of having generous friends who can play. Love your music and video too. Looks like a cool project.

  • Icon for: Cathlyn Stylinski

    Cathlyn Stylinski

    Researcher
    May 18, 2018 | 09:28 a.m.

    Great video -- love the energy!

    It seems you have a strong focus on observation. Could you share how you break down observations for the youth? That is, what are the steps/components that help students observe scientifically (which differs from everyday observations)?

    Thanks Cat

  • Icon for: Kevin Beals

    Kevin Beals

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 05:10 p.m.

    Hi Cat -

      Here is one of our student activities (our most viral one!) that includes an introduction to observations:  http://beetlesproject.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/I-Notice-I-Wonder-It-Reminds-Me-Of.pdf   Kevin
  • Icon for: Cathlyn Stylinski

    Cathlyn Stylinski

    Researcher
    May 19, 2018 | 03:51 p.m.

    I love it! 

    Thanks

    Cat

  • Small default profile

    Quinn Kaufmann

    Graduate Student
    May 19, 2018 | 12:51 p.m.

    What an amazing experience for students to see these real-life examples!  I love how engaged they were.  Your focus on curiosity and observation is so important for students to really become involved in the learning process.   In the third grade science curriculum that I teach, we use the FOSS science kits.  One unit is on structures of life where we examine crayfish and Beetles behaviors.  We take a field trip to a nature center where students look for these critters in the stream. Afterwards they discuss the characteristics of each.  This is always a highlight for our class, but I would like to incorporate more outdoor discoveries into our lessons. Can you share what is the followup after they finish their outdoor experience? Is this in conjunction with a separate school curriculum?  Well done!

  • Icon for: Chih-Che Tai

    Chih-Che Tai

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2018 | 08:58 p.m.

     Thanks for sharing this excellent project and video. I love the student conversation around 1:43. I have a question: after this outdoor experience did students generate some learning reflections or reports? If they did, what kind of learning reflections they have produced? 

  • May 21, 2018 | 11:49 a.m.

    Great project! I really like how the project focuses on getting children outside, sparking their curiosity about nature, and encouraging them to ask and investigate questions. It would be so interesting to see what impacts this type of curriculum has on kids in the long-term (e.g. career choices, leadership roles, hobbies, etc.). Do you have plans on following up with students in the program in the years to come?

     
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    Rachael Mady
  • Icon for: Rachael Mady

    Rachael Mady

    Graduate Student
    May 21, 2018 | 03:33 p.m.

    This is an incredible project that is definitely needed. I was fortunate to participate in outdoor education as part of a previous naturalist position and it was easy to see the value that is there in taking kids outside. Has it been easy or a challenge to coordinate with schools and other programs to get the kids outside? 

  • Icon for: Kevin Beals

    Kevin Beals

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 04:01 p.m.

    Hi Rachael. We work with programs around the country (and other countries) that already take students outside, and give them free resources to help them be better at engaging students with the outdoors through learner-centered and nature-focused teaching approaches.  And using a scientific mindset. 

  • Icon for: Jessica Andrews

    Jessica Andrews

    Project Director
    May 21, 2018 | 06:53 p.m.

    Great video - makes me want to take a hike! My project, PLUM LANDING Explore Outdoors, shares your goal of bringing outdoor environmental science exploration to organizations that might not ordinarily prioritize science learning. We have been working with outdoor prescription programs, outdoor education programs, and sports and recreation programs to develop materials that integrate science learning with these programs' other priorities -- like fun, physical activity, and opportunities for social interaction. It's great learning more about other projects that are tackling this challenge.

  • Icon for: Kevin Beals

    Kevin Beals

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 07:11 p.m.

    Sounds great, Jessica! So glad you're doing that work!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.