Scientists for Community Outreach
Client: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Alaska Fisheries Science Center Seattle, WA
Issue: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle,
WA wanted to improve their staff outreach activities to schools
and the community. Scientists were interested in improving their
presentations to schools in light of increased emphasis on classroom
educational standards. Developing alternative outreach tools
to use with community groups was another priority.
Many employees are involved in outreach by personal choice as
an additional task with limited time for training. Isolated
work environments and heavy seasonal workloads were other challenges
faced in developing training and support for outreach efforts.
Solution: After consultation with an internal
outreach team, an on-line needs assessment determined employee
interests, needs and priorities for supporting their outreach
efforts. Three events were organized to address the following
key questions identified in the needs assessment.
What is NOAA currently doing for outreach? An employee
in-reach fair was organized to showcase materials, displays
and programs that were used by fellow employees. A conference
room was setup similar to a community fair might be –
with NOAA employees as the audience! Knowing what already exists
reduces the “reinventing the wheel” factor.
What is it like to teach science in today’s schools?
Three teachers representing different grade levels participated
in a facilitated panel discussion with an opportunity for audience
interaction. Hearing about classroom experiences directly from
teachers gives a new perspective about science education.
What are the science education standards for students in
Washington schools and how are they measured? In a workshop
format, NOAA employees were introduced to the state’s
science education standards, completed several questions on
the standardized science test and scored those questions. This
hands-on method helps employees to understand what is expected
of teachers and students in today’s schools!
Role: Cascade Interpretive Consulting (CIC)
guided NOAA employees to develop their own process for improving
the outreach training of scientists. CIC developed and administered
the needs assessment, organized the teacher panel and the science
education standards training.
Download Project Profile PDF