Connecting Field Trips and Family Interest: A Tool to Elicit English- and Spanish-Speaking Families’ Interests

Martha Merson and Scott Pattison
Connected Science Learning October-December 2020 (Volume 2, Issue 4)

Protected lands such as wildlife sanctuaries, botanic gardens, and state and national parks are popular destinations for school groups. Prior to a field trip, educators may do preparatory assignments with students, recruit parents as chaperones, and host a ranger for a classroom visit. Inviting families to take part in park visits is a particularly promising strategy for connecting with caregivers who feel ill-at-ease in school buildings (e.g., see ). Interactions in outdoor settings sidestep the formality of school-based meetings. To maximize the potential for family learning, we wanted a convenient, context- and place-appropriate way for educators and park rangers to open conversations about individuals’ and families’ interests.

iSwoop Article Image

During the National Science Foundation–funded iSWOOP project (Interpreters and Scientists Working on Our Parks, ), teams of researchers developed and piloted two activity-based interview instruments for eliciting the interests that visitors bring to park experiences (Figure 1).