Informal Education

A number of informal/outreach teaching experiences have allowed me to stretch my abilities in communicating science and to reach a broader audience.

Citizen Science with Poison Frogs: Dozens of groups of university and high school students and even seniors who are docents at field stations and wildlife reserves have heard a bit about my research and then joined me for field work to clean out the artificial bromeliads (cups; see research). The experience lets them see how science really happens out there, and gets a few dozen hands out there to help maintain my research plots.

Dirty Tadpole Cup

Dirty Tadpole Cup

Open House at the Field Station: In late October each year, La Selva opens its doors to over a thousand visitors from the local community. There are cultural activities, forest walks, and exhibition booths set up by La Selva researchers. This is the ultimate experience in informal teaching, and I got to know my butcher, my pharmacist, a taxi driver, and my car mechanic’s daughter because they came to hear about poison frog tadpoles. I presented a booth 7 times during this wonderful opportunity to make the results of the research available to my neighbors and the people who live in and around the rainforest that is home to the frogs.

Showing community members some poison frogs at the La Selva Feria Ambiental

Showing community members some poison frogs at the La Selva Feria Ambiental

High School Groups in the Field: The World Leadership School organizes trips to Costa Rica and other areas of the world for groups of early high school students to volunteer in communities and experience conservation science and other globally relevant themes in the field with the objective of developing global leaders with diverse perspectives. I participated for many years as the resident scientist with a few groups each year, leading students through mini-field research projects or activities such as assessment of water quality in streams near organic and non-organic pineapple farms.

NSF RCN Communicating Science Workshop: As a steering committee member, I assisted Dr. Deedra McClearn in organizing this Research Coordination Network event in Costa Rica, focusing on assessment, active learning, informal education, and other topics with a wide diversity of education experts. We assembled a bibliography with hundreds of pdf’s on these topics, which are available in a public group on Mendeley.

NSF RCN workshop in Communicating Science

NSF RCN workshop in Communicating Science