everyday SCIENCE Project SEE Offers Science for Seniors
Senior citizens from 32 centers throughout the state of New Jersey can learn about ecology from the experts—scientists from the Meadowlands Environmental Center who are involved in cutting-edge research of the Meadowlands ecosystem. But the scientists aren’t spending time on the road visiting these centers. Instead, the two groups are connecting through videoconferencing technology.
Program designers are preparing four modules to use with older adults. The first two have been completed and have already been used in four centers—the United Senior Center Hackensack, the Secaucus Senior Center, the Clara Maass Continuing Care Center, and the Lyndhurst Public Library. Each module asks a timely question and then uses a variety of strategies to present information.
The goal of the first module, Should I tell my children and grandchildren to eat the fish and crabs they catch?, is to educate this audience about the continuing dangers of eating contaminated fish. Using this information, the participants can further discuss how to address the region’s ecological problems.
Each module includes three sessions. The first, which takes place at the center, introduces the topic through hands-on activities. The next session features a videoconference with scientists from the Meadowlands. In this session for Module 1, scientists point out species of particular concern. They also go over the fish and crabs listed in the state’s advisory and the potential health effects of eating them.
The following day, the group participates in the third and final session. Also a videoconference, this session focuses on what seafood people can eat and safe ways to prepare it. The session ends with the seniors competing for prizes during a Marsh Jeopardy Game.
“I’ve enjoyed working with each and every senior I have met so far,” says Angela Cristini, project director. “They are interested, engaged, and fun loving. Although it may sound hokey, this experience has certainly shown me that you really are never too old to learn new things.”29