Supporting Learning at Home

May 1, 2020

Like many of our members and visitors, The Lawrence Hall of Science staff are working at home under California’s shelter-in-place order. Our exhibit halls and learning labs are waiting to be filled once more with the excited hum of kids and families exploring, inventing, and discovering together. We really can’t wait for a time when we can safely welcome you back!

Though our building is currently closed, now more than ever we all have important work to do. Daily education is now the responsibility of parents, grandparents, and even older siblings. Many are filling this role for the first time. Educators everywhere are learning on the fly how to support learning at home. As a leading educational organization, we are mobilizing our resources to help families, schools, and educators across the country navigate this new reality. As the public science center for the University of California, Berkeley, we continue to connect the public with relevant as well as current research and innovation. Our staff of educators, researchers, curriculum designers, and more are here to engage with and support you through this challenging time.

Resources for Students and Families

In March we launched The Lawrence at Home, an online space designed to bring into your home a taste of the experience of visiting our science center. We have live streamed Storytime programs with some of our favorite science books for kids. Our educators are also producing new video series, like Kitchen Science, Neighborhood Nature, Ask a Scientist, and more. You can join our Planetarium Director John and Search the Sky from your own backyard. Since we launched these offerings, The Lawrence at Home videos have been watched by more than 8,500 people. We plan to continue providing this engaging content to you—free of charge! We hope you’ll subscribe to our email newsletter so you can receive weekly updates about this exciting project.

The Lawrence Hall of Science is also the developer of three of the leading science curricula in use in the United States: Amplify Science, FOSS (Full Option Science System), and SEPUP (Science Education for Public Understanding Project). In collaboration with our publishers, we have been working to support parents around the country to access resources that will help them continue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning at home. Tens of thousands of people are accessing these resources online each day!

Amplify Science launched a three-pronged effort to support educators, parents, and students with remote learning:

  1. A comprehensive Remote Learning Site, which provides easy access to digital simulations, student reading materials, home-friendly activities, and other resources.
  2. Free videos of lessons, recorded by real teachers throughout the country, for students who don’t have the benefit of facilitated remote instruction.
  3. A dedicated hotline, support chat, and office hours with Professional Learning Specialists, to support Amplify Science educators.

FOSS has updated its website to allow nonregistered students as well as families to gain direct access to downloadable PDFs of home activities on its Home/School Connections Center. Please note, however, that full access to all its resources still requires a log-in. FOSS has also developed a short lesson plan about the science of COVID-19, available in both English and Spanish.

SEPUP has made a number of digital activities and online simulations available for students, covering a diverse array of subjects like geology, ecology, space, and more. SEPUP has also shared its Science as a Human Endeavor series highlighting the contributions of diverse scientists and engineers across disciplines.

In addition to these educational resources, The Lawrence Hall of Science has partnered with Science at Cal to create The Science of COVID-19, a curated page with the latest news, videos, articles, and more about the virus. We hope these resources will support you in staying informed, with accurate information about the novel coronavirus and its impact.

Resources for Schools and Districts

Making the transition from classroom to distance learning is challenging for educators as well as for students and parents. Researchers and curriculum developers at The Lawrence are strategizing ways to model and reflect on best practices that will make online teaching more engaging and effective, all while recognizing that it is not a replacement for in-person learning experiences.

BaySci partners with school districts around the San Francisco Bay Area to improve the quality and quantity of science education afforded to students. BaySci now shares various online professional learning opportunities, focused on making the shift to teaching science online. To learn more, please sign up for BaySci’s email communication list. Our researchers are also working with the curriculum publishers mentioned above to increase the availability of professional development videos, and to assist teachers in accessing online learning resources the publishers have made available.

Resources for Informal Educators

The Lawrence Hall of Science has long been renowned as a leader in supporting informal learning organizations, such as museums, science centers, outdoor education programs, after-school programs, and youth-serving organizations. Even as museums, for one example, increasingly are moving to enhance their online programming and events, The Lawrence continues to model best practices for informal and out-of-school educators across the country.

Reflecting on Practice (ROP) has held several digital meetings that have supported museum educators in devising more-effective ways to offer remote activities and lessons. ROP has offered a platform for educators to discuss how their various approaches to online teaching affect at-home learners. ROP continues to host regular online meetings on its network to discuss online learning and teaching, and is working to make its online professional learning programs available for free to teachers and museum educators.

In addition to creating great outdoor learning videos for The Lawrence at Home, our BEETLES program recently hosted a virtual conference for outdoor educators to discuss ways for struggling outdoor education programs to stay relevant during the pandemic. BEETLES (“Better Environmental Education Teaching, Learning, and Expertise Sharing”) also networks and provides support, as such programs strive to create videos and other online content.

Stay Connected

We at The Lawrence are fully committed to supporting families, educators, schools, and communities through this difficult time. We will continue to stay true to our mission by acting as innovative and steadfast partners in inspiring and activating diverse thinkers, innovators, and change-makers to use science to create an equitable and healthy tomorrow. To get the latest updates on all that we are doing in furtherance of our mission during the pandemic, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribe to our email list. If you have any questions about our work, feel free to send us a message. We like being in touch with you! And we hope that you and your family stay safe and healthy.

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