Out-of-school learning in science: Science museums and field trips
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Out-of-school opportunities for learning science contribute fundamentally to people's knowledge, understanding (and misunderstanding) about science. The educational opportunities provided by institutions such as museums, zoos and aquaria, historical displays and interpretative environmental centres have been recognised, but not always effectively exploited, since their inception. Structured research to explore whether or not, and how, their learning potential is fulfilled began barely three decades ago in Australasia. In this chapter, I begin by drawing attention to early Australian publications in science education that exhorted teachers to use out-of-school resources to enhance interest and learning in science and, with some sense of déjà vu, note the similarity with present day issues and concerns. The focus then turns to research on out-of-school learning in science. The contribution of Australasians in this area is significant, but without space for a comprehensive review, I have chosen to trace some of the background and major research milestones that underpin our current understanding of how science is, learned on field trips to science museums and similar places.
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