Interpreters and Scientists Working On Our Parks (iSWOOP) was funded by the National Science Foundation as a model program to build visitors’ understanding of science at national parks. iSWOOP brought together educators, scientists, and rangers (National Park Service (NPS) interpreters) to incorporate park-based or park-relevant science into programs for the public.

iSWOOP influenced interpreter-visitor interactions in four ways, by providing interpreters with:

  • Direct contact with scientists doing research in the park in an interactive format. 
  • Field-based experiences, increasing their awareness of scientific park-based research. 
  • Compelling visual data and graphs which can function as a jumping off point for STEM learning. 
  • Ongoing opportunities to reflect on and then improve their interactions with visitors, increasing their strategies for leveraging visitors’ questions for active inquiry.

Staff engage with the researchers on site, and host sessions to help the rangers interpret complex data, and then to ask informed questions of the researchers. When the rangers come to a deeper understanding of the research, their interactions with visitors are also transformed. Rangers learn from iSWOOP to guide visitors to answer their own or each others’ questions in order to build scientific literacy.

You can share and discuss iSWOOP’s 3-minute videos here: STEM Multiplex

iSWOOP projects were evaluated by Char Associates.

iSWOOP Implementation in National Parks: Perspectives from Park Leaders, Interpreters, Visitors, and Scientists. 2020.

To be more inquisitive in the natural world

Evaluation of the Interpreters and Scientists Working on Our Parks, (iSWOOP) pathways project

Executive summary:_iswoopexecsum92115_FiNAL


Our gratitude extends to the interpreters and visitors who participated in the project. We are grateful to dozens of NPS staff in many roles and divisions who have allowed us to learn from them and with them. iSWOOP owes thanks to generous scientists who have contributed so much to this endeavor, and to our thoughtful advisors for their guidance.

This project is made possible with support from the National Science Foundation DRL-1323030 and DRL-1514776 and 1514766. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

You can read about project leaders and collaborating scientists.

About TERC

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