[Coral-List] Education...

Rusty Barnett bralice1002 at qwest.net
Sat Apr 8 15:30:50 EDT 2006

Hello Coral Listers,

I have been following the discussion about educating the public...and especially the kids...as I have had time, and I had a couple of comments to add.

There have been a number of good ideas floated, but there seems to be some danger of "reinventing the wheel".  There are already a number of good kid's programs out there that just need the volunteers with the time to administer them in the schools.  A couple that come to mind are PADI's "AWARE Kids" (www.projectaware.org) and the Oceans for Youth Foundation (www.oceansforyouth.com).  It has been my experience that elementary schools in particular are often VERY interested in having folks (especially scientists) come in and do these sorts of programs, especially when they are done on a volunteer basis (budgets can be tight, as we all know).  I have done a few talks at schools, and plan to do more now as my youngest will soon be in full day school.  The AWARE Kids materials are well suited to having the classroom teacher present them.  The Oceans for Youth campaign is looking for volunteers to go into the schools, and I plan to look into that soon.  Both have professional, "slick" materials & DVD's associated with them.  There may well be others, but these are the two with which I am familiar.

As for the adults, I don't know what the best answer is.  When I was a kid, the "Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" was avidly watched by many, even with the competition from the space program.  I used to be on the board of directors of a major underwater film festival & dive show, and there was a growing sense that it just wasn't as easy to grab people's interest & sell out the film festival showings anymore.  Maybe the "novelty" wore off...after all, with hundreds of satellite channels available and things like "Shark Week", there is a lot of competition for people's interest.  It will be interesting to see how JM Cousteau's new show does on PBS...I saw the first installment, and it did seem to have some good photography (and certainly a well-known name...).  I think that many people are concerned about the environment, but I think many feel overwhelmed by what they hear.  We must be careful as educators to avoid hyperbole, overgeneralizations and overstatements of what is known (rather than assumed) with regard to things like global warming, etc. or risk looking like "Chicken Little".  

So, after my rambling, what do YOU think the answer to adult outreach & education is (aside from the previously discussed "sexy scientist" idea)?  Higher-profile documentaries on TV (i.e. Cousteau, etc)?   Getting as many people diving in an educated manner as possible ("people protect what they love")?  Political action (scary, can impinge on your perceived objectivity as a scientist)?  Your ideas?


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