Ocean science: An exciting wave in Cal education and outreach

    UC Berkeley undergrads teach local kids and their parents about ocean science at Cal Day.

    In the spring 2010 semester, a class of UC Berkeley undergrads experienced a rather unique curriculum on ocean science and education. The course, Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA), was originally developed by the Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence California (COSEE Ca), which is a collaborative partnership between our very own Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with funding from the National Science Foundation.

    The course is aimed toward students whose studies relate to ocean science or whose career goals include science teaching and outreach. COSIA was designed as a program to foster creative science teaching methods, especially directed toward the general public. The curriculum has been so successful in the college classroom that 20 other institutions nationwide have now implemented it!

    In the classroom, COSIA students developed their own hands-on activities to share with outreach audiences at the LHS, the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, and Cal Day. Activities ranged from wave demonstrations to understanding the structure of coral by building models. Dr. Jennifer Skene, who taught the course this past semester, says that COSIA students “learned a lot about explaining science concepts, and communicating in general, and they really gained self confidence and became better speakers.”

    COSIA represents not only the opportunity for UC Berkeley students to experience the many possibilities of science teaching, but also an example of internal UC Berkeley cooperative efforts. Dr. Skene received her Ph.D. from our very own Integrative Biology (IB) department, did a post-doc at the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), and has just accepted a full-time position with the LHS. Both the UCMP and the LHS are highly engaged in excellent science education programs for the greater community. Check out their websites for more exciting summer events and activities to incorporate into your classroom!

    Are you a UC Berkeley student interested in enrolling in this class? Keep an eye out for “Communicating Ocean Science” in the spring 2011 class schedule. The course is cross-listed between Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geography, and Integrative Biology.

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