National Parks are full of interesting and unusual STEM features which often intrigue visitors whose questions are answered by park personnel. In addition to the natural features, there are often researchers in the parks gathering data and conducting ... More »
Principal Investigator: Martha Merson
Co-PI: Nickolay Hristov
Senior Scientist: Louise Allen
Funder: National Science Foundation
iSWOOP is a professional development program that helps park rangers bridge the gap between the public and the researchers at Acadia National Park, Boston Harbor Islands, Carlsbad Caverns, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Jean LaFitte National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park.
iSWOOP is a way to bring scientists, educators, and interpreters together to foster a better understanding of science that’s going on in national parks, to really enhance STEM learning for visitors.
—Dr. Louise Allen
This project is meant to advance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning among national park visitors. iSWOOP brings together educators, scientists, and National Park Service (NPS) interpreters to incorporate site-based science into programs for the public.
Project staff seek to build expertise within the interpreter and ranger community. 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.
iSWOOP supports the NPS in fulfilling its educational vision by enhancing interpreter-visitor interactions in four ways, providing interpreters with: