Communicating Research to Public Audiences: Environmental Drivers of the Ecological Role and Movements of Top Predators in the Coastal Everglades

July 1st, 2010 - June 30th, 2013 | PROJECT

This two-year project is communicating the results of scientific discoveries produced by an on-going LTER (Long-term Ecological Research) project devoted to understanding the Everglades ecosystem. Specifically, Dr. Heithaus is capitalizing on the discoveries funded through 0620409 (Coastal Oligotrophic Ecosystems Research) about the role of large-bodied, top predators in the Everglades, including bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) and American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). The STEM content of this project is biology, in particular ecology, the environment, and conservation. These results are being communicated via: (1) multimedia exhibit presentations at multiple museums and nature centers in southern Florida, primarily the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS), located in Ft. Lauderdale near the Everglades and (2) online dissemination of mini-documentaries and other educational components at social media websites and the LTER web site. The target audience for the museum exhibit components includes learners from diverse cultural backgrounds, such as urban family groups reflecting the demographics of southern Florida. This project will also develop a documentary about Everglades ecology that is planned for dissemination on a cable TV channel devoted to natural history. In order to link with formal education, related educational deliverables are being produced for use in science classroom settings (grades 4 through 12) that are aligned with the state science standards and benchmarks. Formative assessment conducted by museum staff and university students will evaluate learning outcomes as they relate to STEM content learning goals. After the two-year funding period, the science learning opportunities produced from the current Communicating Research to Public Audiences (CRPA) project will be sustained as the exhibit travels to other venues and as web deliverables are accessed on-line.

Project Website(s)

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Project Products

Team Members

Michael Heithaus, Principal Investigator, Florida International University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 0959026
Funding Amount: 149699


Access and Inclusion: Ethnic | Racial | Urban
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Families | General Public | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | History | policy | law | Life science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Exhibitions | Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media