iSWOOP: Interpreters and Scientists Working On Our Parks (2015)


iSWOOP, Interpreters and Scientists Working On Our Parks, is an NSF-funded, pilot initiative that seeks to create a model of professional development for national park interpreters to help advance STEM learning for the more than 275 million annual visitors of America’s National Parks. iSWOOP is based on a collaboration among scientists, informal science educators and park interpretive rangers. They all work together to conduct park-based research and to design engaging and informative interpretive programs on scientific topics of relevance and interest to the general public with a focus on the process of science. In this first phase of development, the project is discovering best practices that allow visitor engagement through visual storytelling, inquiry and facilitated dialog. Piloted at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, we anticipate extending the model to other national parks around the US.

NSF Award: 1323030


This discussion took place during the TERC Video Showcase Event Nov. 14-21, 2023. Discussion is now closed.
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Nickolay Hristov
Nickolay Hristov
November 14, 2023 9:38 am
Welcome! iSWOOP was an 8-year initiative that started in one park (Carlsbad Caverns National Park, CAVE) and grew to include 4 additional ones – ACAD, JELA, JOTR and INDU. Can you tell which ones? Do you speak the NPS park language? Join us to watch the 5 videos (2015-2019) and learn more about the project.
Nuria Jaumot-Pascual
Nuria Jaumot-Pascual
November 14, 2023 12:21 pm
Hi! I have loved seeing the development of this project throughout the years. In this video, I really enjoy how you allowed the images to do most of the talking. Beautiful!
How have you adapted what you learned with the original implementation of the project with the bats at Carlsbad to other parks that have such different species and habitats?
Looking forward to the conversation!
Nickolay Hristov
Nickolay Hristov
November 15, 2023 5:50 pm
Hi Nuria! Indeed the bats were a one off within NPS. Acadia, for example, is not about a specific feature or “resource” but about the overall experience. Visitors stay longer, tend to come back year after year (or two) and the park interpretation feels different there than at CAVE where the focus is on the cave and bats. Of course, beyond that, every park has its own feel – legacies, rituals, SOPs… We had to learn on the job to adapt. In the end a lot of the success of the iSWOOP approach was about engaging the “right” scientist(s) and their (existing?) relationship with the park. We are glad you like the more open-ended and visual style of our filmmaking. 
Nuria Jaumot-Pascual
Nuria Jaumot-Pascual
November 17, 2023 9:33 am
The contrast with Acadia is very helpful. I used to go there every year when I lived in MA, and I absolutely love that park.

Can you talk a bit about how the work in iSWOOP inspired Sound Travels? What are the connections between the two projects?