Today’s Solutions: November 30, 2021

Most of our childhood is spent exploring, learning, and absorbing new information, but once we leave formal education, this emphasis on cultivating new knowledge is largely lost to the world of work and adult responsibilities. Simultaneously, large portions of the adult population struggle to understand scientific concepts which directly relate to our health and wellbeing. So how can adults continue to pursue science education? Adult STEM education professional Jill Zarestky has some tips.

Visit National Parks 

National Parks have seen a dramatic increase in visitors since the start of the pandemic. These spaces offer not only a way to recreate safely outdoors, but also an opportunity to deepen scientific and environmental knowledge. For example, ​​Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has a program about erosion and weathering, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers guided educational tours. Most parks have some sort of adult education offering as well as webcams and virtual museums to help people from all over the world learn about these unique ecosystems.

University extension programs

Most universities offer adult education extension courses that allow adults to continue expanding their knowledge base without the full commitment of a rigorous higher education curriculum. Check in with your local university or community college and see if they have a once- or twice-a-week class on a subject that fascinates you.

Biological field stations

Associated with research institutions, biological field stations are often located in more rural areas where there are fewer museums, aquariums, and zoos. Many of these allow volunteers to get involved in research projects. For example, the Mohonk Preserve in upstate New York enlists volunteers to monitor bird activity and habitats and document seasonal changes in plants.

Marine labs

Marine laboratories are like biological field stations, but with an aquatic focus. In Florida, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute offers citizen science programs and weekly lectures on the work they’re doing.

Get involved in citizen science 

The expansion of the internet means that more people than ever can try their hand at citizen science. Whether you’re interested in bird watching or AI conservation, there is a project out there for everyone. Check out this Optimist View to learn more about how to find a project that’s right for you.

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