INFORMAL GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION: MORE THAN JUST PLAYING WITH ROCKS
Informal geoscience education not only includes venues, but also informal teaching techniques that can reach a broader audience other than the ‘rockhounds’ (geologic hobbyist) or those with a formal geologic interest (i.e. student and amateur geologists). Informal education techniques are ideal to address various styles of learning. Environmental Education (EE) is one type of informal education that promotes critical thinking and unbiased decision making about the world around us. EE provides a foundation of educational techniques that geoscience educators can utilize in and out of the classroom. These techniques and non-intimidating venues provide a positive environment for communicating and educating with those that are uninterested or have difficulty understanding science. In less formal venues, the Geoscientist can also show the enthusiasm that many have for their profession which is as important as content to engage and inspire learners.
In informal venues, the main goal is to inspire participants to learn more on their own. Designing programs that the participants themselves engage in, discover and become curious about process are more effective than focusing on a list of facts. Environmental Education is a proven set of techniques and activities that can be adapted to the geosciences. Informal techniques can be used to implement the various state level Standard Courses of Study and the Next Generation Science Standards to guide presentation content, design and correlate programs to curricula. This poster highlights the techniques and venues I have used over the past 15-years in science centers, museums, parks and classrooms. It includes examples of geoscience education at various venues, age groups, demonstrations and activities