From South Florida to South Africa: A Collaborative Approach for Making Science Sensible to Learners in Informal and Formal Settings
This paper presents two innovative programs in the learning of science by schoolchildren and youth: Science Made Sensible (SMS) and Science Cafés (SC). In South Florida, the SMS program invites graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to pair with middle school science teachers over the course of an academic year and assist with the teaching of science in the classroom. The program has been extended internationally to South Africa, where the SMS graduate fellows and SMS teachers from South Florida collaborate with students and teachers in South African middle schools. The SC concept encourages working scientists to discuss science with young people in a resource-poor township environment. On a regular basis, different scientists are invited to dialogue and informally share their research with youth. The concept of science communication strategies is discussed to show that models which involve learning are as valuable in resource-poor environments as are the dialogue events becoming popular in developed countries. SMS and SC work in similar communities in and around Pretoria, South Africa, and complement each other. Evaluations of both programs have been highly rated by participants and the model of partnership suggests that they are very valuable for the learning of science in underserved communities.
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