Interpreters and Scientists Working On Our Parks (iSWOOP) is funded by the National Science Foundation under grant 1323030 as a model program to build visitors’ understanding of science at National Parks. The National Science Foundation and the National Park Service both include public education in their mission statements.
This Pathways project is meant to advance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning among national park visitors. iSWOOP will bring together educators, scientists, and National Park Service (NPS) interpreters to incorporate site-based science into programs for the public.
iSWOOP will support the NPS in fulfilling its educational vision by enhancing interpreter-visitor interactions in four ways, by providing interpreters with:
- Direct contact with scientists doing research in the park in an interactive format;
- Field-based experiences, increasing their awareness of scientific park-based research;
- Compelling visual data and graphs which can function as a jumping off point for STEM learning;
- Ongoing opportunities to reflect on and then improve their interactions with visitors, increasing their strategies for leveraging visitors’ questions for active inquiry.