An Informal Setting Experience: A Visit to the Zoological Gardens

Essay by bud2University, Master'sA+, February 2004

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There is an increasing amount of literature that attests to the power and influence of informal learning settings that can ignite the curiosity and interest in science for students of all ages. As researchers, scientists, and educators, the goals of taking our students to informal settings, such as museums, aquariums, nature centers, and zoos, should not only be to entice and expand their natural curiosity about the exhibits that they see and their world around them; but also to augment their formal science classroom learning. This article includes some of the research on informal learning settings to support the premise that such settings are useful in teaching science to today's youth. In addition, it discusses the benefits that can be gained from visiting both a virtual zoo web site, as a preliminary lesson in preparation for the informal setting trip, and the actual informal setting situation itself. Finally , highlights from a day spent at the JacksonvilIe Zoological Gardens should give teachers an understanding of just how this city's Zoo can be an enjoyable and educational learning experience for students and teachers alike.

An informal science setting trip to the Zoo will allow students to gain information about the Zoo environment and to utilize the scientific method process. Through inquiry of the Zoo's staff and by observing its animals and exhibits, students will be able to test any hypotheses that they made regarding the Zoo, its animals, and other related issues in order to make conclusions about their experience at the facility. In essence, their informal science learning setting to the Jacksonville Zoo will be a stimulating and enjoyable experience that will provide them with information that will become part of their prior knowledge foundation.

Introduction to Informal Science Settings

Informal science education does have a number of objectives...