San Juan, Puerto Rico – In response to #COVID19, the Science Museum of Puerto Rico has launched its groundbreaking “VIRTUAL SCIENCE” program which connects world class Spanish-speaking scientists with the communities, while building resilience through STEM education. Also, promotes education and scientific experience to forge and transform the lives of thousands of resilient children, youth, and adults on the Island.
From April 20 to 26, the EcoExploratorio will hold virtual educational activities using its innovative digital platform, “Virtual Science,” to inspire and educate future generations about nature and climate change. These activities will provide education about the most relevant planetary issues under the concept of Virtual Science-Planet Earth edition. The international scientific community will join this great effort of the EcoExploratorio through webinars, interviews, and activities with experts on earth sciences for the benefit of the community. Leaders of international entities such as NASA, the World Meteorological Organization, the University of Puerto Rico, the American Chemical Society, Inter-American Association of Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Sciences, among others, enrich the educational offer of the “Virtual Science” program.
Ada Monzón, the founder of the EcoExploratorio and meteorologist, said that “our planet is our shared home. We need scientific knowledge to understand how to care for it and adapt to the changes that this great house and its inhabitants are undergoing. We need to ponder about how life, the environment, and the economy interrelate in the face of global crises, and we can study COVID-19 and climate change, along with other risks. Now more than ever, we have to project ourselves and understand that today’s decisions will determine the future of this planet in the next 50 years. Therefore, we must educate our students to be resilient. We have to ensure that beyond formal education, they develop the skills and social and emotional intelligence necessary to be part of the solutions. The EcoExploratorio is offering opportunities for science and community connections while understanding our home in the universe.”
The purpose of “Virtual Science” is to expand scientific education of the EcoExploratorio into the digital environment, connect scientists with the community (students, parents, tutors, adults, and the general public), and provide context to the formal knowledge in STEM. Half a million children, youth, and families have already benefited from the EcoExploratorio: Science Museum of Puerto Rico’s “Virtual Science” educational program since the program began in March. This pioneering and innovative digital educational tool intends to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 at the academic level. Given the success of its scope, the EcoExploratorio has institutionalized it to expand its educational offer and establish connections with scientists around the planet. Thus, it gives children and youth of Puerto Rico access to educators and scientific experts from around the world, and great opportunities to learn about STEM disciplines remotely. The initiative also promotes the continuity of science and technology education during times of emergency, to sustain economic development, health, and the environment in our society, while serving as an example for other museums in the world.
As part of the initiative, the EcoExploratorio will carry out three daily educational sessions from Monday to Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., and Saturday at 3:00 p.m., free of charge. The 11:00 a.m. sessions are interviews dedicated to “Climate Change,” those at 1:00 p.m. to various topics of “Education in STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). At 3:00, expert scientists will offer webinars about current issues “Connecting with the Community.” On Wednesday, April 22, Planet Earth Day, a group of youngsters will lead the forum “Heroes in Favor of our Planet,” about the problems, solutions, and actions to protect our planet.
Dario B. De Jesus participated in one of the educational webinars of Virtual Science program as part the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. (photo supplied)
Jenny M. Guevara, executive director of the EcoExploratorio, said that “the EcoExploratorio is an agile and creative, community-based institution. We have a great team that is making a difference in the future of Puerto Rico, by promoting education and resilience to the forces and changes in nature. Our space unites various disciplines and institutions from the private and public sectors, including universities, foundations, and organizations. We also attract and families that harmoniously want to learn from Earth and the universe. Understanding the sensitivity of the topic of the pandemic in our community, we promote a balanced scientific conversation. The “Virtual Science” program that has become the EcoExploratorio’s quintessential digital education tool.”
Students, teachers, educators, and the general public interested in participating in the conferences of the “Virtual Science” program can access the calendar of activities through ecoexploratorio.org/cienciavirtual or on the social networks of the EcoExploratorio.
On both platforms, you will find specific activity registration links using the interactive ZOOM platform. The maximum ZOOM registration capacity is up to 500 people per activity. However, you can view the event simultaneously on EcoExploratorio’s Facebook Live. Similarly, educational activities will be on EcoExploratorio’s YouTube channel.
Building a resilient country
As part of its mission, the EcoExploratorio contributes to the community through education, as facilitators and by supporting formal instruction in the field of STEM sciences. Like the visual security of the Solar Eclipse, and the rapid response to hurricanes Irma and María (2017) and earthquakes in the southwest (2019-2020), the EcoExploratorio responds to each challenge caused by nature. It is agile and efficient, balancing humanitarian aid and education while maintaining its operation. After hurricanes and earthquakes, the EcoExploratorio organized collection centers and provided direct assistance to communities and people in need. It also produced the innovative project “Building Resilience to Natural Disasters using STEM.” Now in its third year, this project aims to create resilient school communities and to provide continuity to education in communities affected by disasters. To do so, it offers curricular content, training, instrumentation, and activities.
In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EcoExploratorio immediately developed the “Virtual Science” digital tool to avoid stopping the educational rhythm in STEM disciplines in our school communities. The project enjoys the support of dozens of experts and scientific leaders and the active participation of K-12 grade students, teachers, and educators, and families.
Resilience in the south
The southwest area of Puerto Rico has suffered the closing of its educational spaces. After the earthquakes, communities had no schools. There was fear, and many students were beginning their studies and resuming the educational process without school supplies while living in tents. The EcoExploratorio and the “Virtual Science” educational program offer workshops and activities in southwest municipalities of the Island. It does so through its “Help the South” project, which is now also digital and supported by the “Virtual Science” platform.
For additional information, contact (787) 281-9090 / (787)281-9091 or write to email@example.com.