A Science Center Staff Training Network
Hello Netlife members,
I am working on a project idea and would like to know... is there a need/desire to train your interpreters on scientific literacy skills like understanding quantitative data tables, reading journal articles, and translating current research to a public audience? Are these things that your floor staff would like to know how to do?
I guess my first question would be: how would you want your interpreters to use these types of skills with your visitors/guests/learners?
As someone who works with facilitators, my desire is that they are lifelong learners first and that includes learning more about the science process and concepts that your museum includes. IMHO, good understandings of these things helps one be a better facilitator, build better skills at conversations, questions, and prompting new insights for visitors. But, just knowing the science process does not a good facilitation make.
Recently we have played with this idea on a less ambitious level in designing activities for families. As part of the design process, we asked our facilitators to use a checklist as they experienced the activities themselves. The checklist included not only "family friendly" criteria, but a list of science skills/practices for them to rate for each activity. I assumed that they had varying levels of familiarity with these skills, so it would serve as feedback for us, but also indicate our expectations that science skill development would be an important part of the activity. We were working with families with younger children, but I can see including activities such as looking at simple data tables, graphs, etc. and asking visitors to identify what patterns, implications they might notice. To do that type of facilitation, it seems the facilitator would need to feel comfortable in playing with this type of data themselves.
And, one more thing, we need to consider the facilitators as learners too, so how to start where they are and providing support and scaffolding to get to a different level is important, but very tough to do. One size does not fit all in training/staff development.