THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA MUSEUM OF PALEONTOLOGY: LEVERAGING NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS AND EXPERTISE THROUGH ONLINE MEDIA
In 1992, the UCMP was one of the first natural history museums to host a website on the then-nascent worldwide web and continues to focus a significant proportion of its outreach efforts into online exhibits ever since. More than 20 years of delivering paleontological information online has produced two award winning websites, Understanding Evolution (www.understandingevolution.org) and Understanding Science (www.understandingscience.org), which provide novel ways to engage the K-16 education community in scientifically valid, real-life portrayals of how evolution and the process of science work. Together these websites receive 20 million pages views annually.
Formal evaluations, as well as direct feedback from educators, confirm that Understanding Evolution and Understanding Science effectively deploy multiple layers of scientific information in a friendly, easily navigable format. These sites support important goals in science education, including the enhancement of content knowledge and the development of critical thinking skills. The success of UCMP’s websites verifies that time-pressed teachers value the ease of navigation, “one-stop shop” approach for accessing vetted teaching materials. The next planned UCMP web resource, Understanding Global Change, will meet educators’ need for trustworthy information and resources on the complex topic of global change.