Developing A Comprehensive Desert Exhibit: An Innovative Model for Informal Science Education in Outdoor Museums
The Desert Botanical Garden will utilize its extensive collection to create a science learning center focusing on deserts and presenting fundamental science concepts applicable to all environments. The comprehensive desert exhibit created by this proposal will feature six thematic trails through 25 acres of the Garden, with the trails' themes ranging from basic characteristics of deserts to adaptions of plants, animals, and people to the desert. Emphasizing ecology and conversation, the trails will include conceptual signs, investigation stations for hands-on, interactive learning, and innovative written exploration guides. The proposal also includes educational programming which will extend the exhibit and encourage use of the Garden as an outdoor laboratory. An exhibit-based curriculum will be developed for use across the state, and an institute will be created to prepare teachers to use the exhibit and curriculum. A newspaper series focusing on key exhibit concepts will be disseminated across the state to reach out-of-school adults. The products of the proposal and the model created will be shred through various networks with a national audience. The local and worldwide population explosion in arid lands mandates an increased understanding of deserts. With this proposal, the Garden will be a catalyst for greater awareness and change.
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