Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center

I have a secret love for environmental education. This shouldn’t actually come as any surprise, especially since I find both peace and joy in hiking the windy hills and learning obscure facts. My love for environmental ed is often buried below other equally-wonderful priorities related to the broader category of experiential education (hands-on! place-based!), so my grad school year was a prime opportunity to uncover it and explore it.

This was our final group project for our spring term Environmental Education class, in which our client was the designer and director of the newly-opened Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, located in downtown Santa Cruz. It is a free visitor’s center near the Santa Cruz boardwalk that aims to educate and connect the public to the marine sanctuary. Our project developed 3 innovative ways that help to evaluate the center’s messaging and efficacy. They are intended to act as formative and summative assessments, often disguised as fun activities that can be incorporated into the center’s exhibits and repertoire for visitors. They include a watershed pathway activity, an iPad identification game on intertidal animals, and a pledge board that is primarily Twitter-facilitated, allowing for interaction and accountability via the greater social network.