North-Central Section - 49th Annual Meeting (19-20 May 2015)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


NORSTED, Brooke, Department of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI 53706 and REUSCHE, Melissa, University of Wisconsin Extension, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, 3817 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705,

For the past few years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Geology Museum (UWGM) has created and delivered science programs at public library branches throughout south-central Wisconsin. These programs have been primarily during the summer months as part of the Summer Reading Clubs that are hosted by community-based libraries. The themes for these SRCs are broad (e.g. the last two years have been Dig into Reading and Fizz Boom Read) and are easy to dovetail with many earth science topics.

In the course of giving 40 hands-on presentations to over 2000 children and their families, we have learned a few lessons. These tricks of the trade include:

Be prepared – Be upfront with your needs (size of room, tables, equipment, materials, etc). However, if you’re doing anything with A/V equipment bring backups! Have a sense of what it is that you’d like to do and have the title and a short description of your program ready when you start contacting partners – these are things they will want to effectively advertise for your program. Bring extra supplies for any activity you’re leading.

Be flexible – Despite clearly stating an age range for a program, be ready for the whole family to come along! You’ll need to make sure you’re not excluding the younger or older sibling from the content of your program. We also found that any registration underestimated the actual attendance. Routinely an additional group of children (often a daycare or community recreation program) would arrive unannounced. Welcome these groups by being ready for them (in terms of materials and your attitude). With the diversity of sizes and age ranges (and attention spans) at each presentation, have “outs” in your program to shorten or lengthen depending on how things are going.

Be friendly – As representatives of our respective public or private institutions, we are ambassadors to the community. This may be one of the few direct interactions that a rural community may have with your institution and you want to make a good impression. Make your emails and in-person communications clear, open, and approachable.