2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:40 AM


WILLIAMS, Douglas F., Department of Geological Sciences, Univ of South Carolina, SC Honors College, Columbia, SC 29208 and HORNE, Catherine, EdVenture Children's Museum, 211 Gervais St, Columbia, 29204, doug.williams@schc.sc.edu

Informal learning environments of children's museums are fertile frontiers for communicating the excitement and significance of Polar scientific research to the public and effective venues to enhance public understanding of the global dimensions of the issues facing the Polar Regions in the coming decades. Go Polar! Cool Science in the Arctic is an informal science educational program made possible through a University-Museum partnership funded by the US National Science Foundation in 2003 (ESI-0336928). The Go Polar! partnership between the EdVenture Children Museum, the largest children's museum in the southeastern US, and the University of South Carolina, the State's largest research university, involved active Arctic researchers, university undergraduate students, the EdVenture museum staff, family education specialists, and educational psychologists to disseminate on-going NSF funded research on the Arctic hydrologic cycle (ODP-0229737). The Go Polar program provided opportunities for South Carolina children and families to meet real scientists engaged in Arctic research with hands-on activities that introduced children and families not only to the scientific process but also to new science concepts and knowledge. The Go Polar program has resulted in the development and testing of Arctic Discovery Boxes – specially designed informal education activities on three themes – #1 The Arctic and Global Change, #2 Arctic Cultures and #3 Animal Adaptations in the Arctic. Each Discovery box contains six interrelated hands-on activities with teaching guides and scripts. In 2005 the Go Polar! partnership expanded the reach of their programming and materials to include the Antarctic. Using the theme “Exploring and Connecting the Opposite Ends of the Earth,” the Go Polar! team created a Polar Festival featuring a giant floor puzzle of the Arctic and Antarctic with the ocean basins and surrounding continents connecting the poles. With orchestrated play, the children are guided through diverse hands-on, minds-on learning experiences including an Arctic Village, an Aurora Theatre, mapping the earth with NASA satellites, migration in the air and sea, ozone, permafrost, and more. Special take home activities and a Polar Passport encourage further exploration at home and school.