Guide to Getting Started

Use this guide to find:

  • the distinctions between what iSWOOP is and is NOT;
  • a checklist to help you determine if iSWOOP could work at your park;
  • suggestions for getting buy-in from leadership and front-line interpretive staff;
  • templates and links to help you get started.

Short films available on youtube

Use the films to inspire coworkers to learn more about iSWOOP’s approaches to communicating park-based science.

Facilitator’s Guide

Ready to run a workshop on iSWOOP’s approaches to communicating park-based science? In this guide, you will find

  • background on iSWOOP
  • rationale (Why do it?)
  • how iSWOOP’s approach dovetails with 21st century standards
  • detailed session plans with activity steps (prep, materials, etc.)
  • suggested preparation, including getting a scientist on board, a timeline for recruiting participants, and developing a visual library (a collection of photos, videos, graphs, maps, and more to jumpstart conversations
  • suggestions for readings
  • an appendix with supporting materials

Note that the times for various components are rough estimates.

Participant packet

Ready to adopt iSWOOP’s approaches to communicating park-based science? Much of what you need to get started is in this packet, including guidance on:

  • Identifying Scientists
  • Tips for Finding Cool Science
  • Contacting Researchers
  • Building a Story: Tips from Experts
  • An iSWOOP Visual Library
  • Fostering Visual
  • Finding Images
  • Tips for Examining Visualizations with Others
  • Visitor Interaction: Prompting Conversations about Scientists’ Studies
  • Techniques for Inviting Active Participation
  • Techniques and Tips for Using a Tablet-based Visual Library

Developing an iSWOOP program

Ranger Melinda McFarland reflects on her process developing a program to highlight park-based research on landscape succession. With some trepidation, she takes on geology and the challenge to make her evening program interactive.


Searching for the Primeval Forest (Outline)

Searching for the Primeval Forest (Slides)

Looking for inspiration, sample questions, ideas for how to launch an iSWOOP program or prompt visitors to observe and interact? Check out the collection of outlines from interpreters at five parks. For each program, you can read a short bio of the interpreter, reference a handy table with line numbers pointing to important iSWOOP features, and imagine yourself leading or participating in an inspiring ranger program. Enjoy!

iSWOOP Program Examples

Other reports and publications are available here.

Finding Cool Science

Louise Allen, iSWOOP (formerly of Winston-Salem State University and now Colorado State University), wildlife biologist, shares tips for finding cool science.

Presenter’s slides

The pdf version

The handout

The zoom session recording []

More resources are archived on the Common Learning Portal. Contact for access.

For fun, check out Tips in Words and Drawings: Collaborating with Scientists in National Parks