Antarctic Dinosaurs: A Giant Screen Film and Educational Outreach
The Antarctic Dinosaurs project aims to leverage the popularity and charisma of dinosaurs to inspire a new generation of polar scientists and a more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)-literate citizenry. The project, centered on a giant screen film that will reach millions of theatrical viewers across the U.S., will convey polar science knowledge through appealing, entertaining media experiences and informal learning programs. Taking advantage of the scope of research currently taking place in Antarctica, this project will incorporate new perspectives into a story featuring dinosaurs and journey beyond the bones to reveal a more nuanced, multi-disciplinary interpretation of paleontology and the profound changes the Antarctic continent has endured. The goals of the project are to encourage young people to learn about Antarctica and its connection to the rest of the globe; to challenge stereotypes of what it means to participate in science; to build interest in STEM pursuits; and to enhance STEM identity.
This initiative, aimed particularly at middle school age youth (ages 11-14), will develop a giant screen film in 2D and 3D formats; a 3-episode television series; an "educational toolkit" of flexible, multi-media resources and experiences for informal use; a "Field Camp" Antarctic science intervention for middle school students (including girls and minorities); fictional content and presentations by author G. Neri dealing with Antarctic science produced for young people of color (including non-readers and at-risk youth who typically lack access to science and nature); and presentations by scientists featured in the film. The film will be produced as a companion experience for the synonymous Antarctic Dinosaurs museum exhibition (developed by the Field Museum, Chicago, in partnership with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Discovery Place, Charlotte, NC, and the Natural History Museum of Utah). Project partner The Franklin Institute will undertake a knowledge-building study to examine the learning outcomes resulting from exposure to the film with and without additional experiences provided by the Antarctic Dinosaurs exhibition and film-related educational outreach. The study will assess the strategies employed by practitioners to make connections between film and other exhibits, programs, and resources to improve understanding of the ways film content may complement and inspire learning within the framework of the science center ecosystem. The project's summative evaluation will address the process of collaboration and the learning impacts of the film and outreach, and provide best practices and new models for content producers and STEM educators. Project partners include film producers Giant Screen Films and Dave Clark Inc.; television producer Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ); Discovery Place (Charlotte, NC); The Franklin Institute; The Field Museum; The Natural History Museum of Utah (The University of Utah); author G. Neri; and a team of scientists and diversity advisers. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants. The project has co-funding support from the Antarctic section of the Office of Polar Programs.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.