Center for Informal Learning and Schools
The Center for Informal Learning and Schools (CILS) is a five-year collaborative effort between the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and King's College London. The purpose of the Center is to study the intersection of informal science learning that takes place in museums and science centers and formal learning that takes place in schools, and to prepare leaders in informal science education. Through the efforts of the center, new doctoral level leaders will be prepared who understand how informal science learning takes place and how informal institutions can contribute to science education reform. A Ph.D. program will be offered to 16 individuals at King's College London (two cohorts of eight) and a post-doctoral program to six scientists interested in issues of learning and teaching in informal settings. A doctoral program is planned at the University of California at Santa Cruz for 24 students, 12 whose interests are primarily in education and 12 who come from the sciences. In addition to doctoral level training, there will be a certification program for existing informal science professionals to better enable them to support teachers, students and the general public. That program will provide 160 informal science educators 120 hours of professional development experiences, and an additional 24 informal science educators with a master's degree in informal science education at UC Santa Cruz. A Bay Area Institute will be developed to serve as a central focus for all CILS activities. It will bring together researchers and practitioners; it will offer courses and workshops for graduate students; and it will provide a central location for reporting research findings and methodologies that focus on how informal learning institutions can best contribute to science education reform.
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