“Learning to communicate in and with a culture of science is a much broader undertaking than mastering a body of discrete conceptual or procedural knowledge.”
any more than a photograph or a painting can be without perspective. Recognition of both aspects of culture in science is critical for promoting science learning.
Learning to communicate in and with a culture of science is a much broader undertaking than mastering a body of discrete conceptual or procedural knowledge. One observer, for example, describes the process of science education as one in which learners must engage in “border crossings” from their own everyday world culture into the subculture of science.1 The subculture of science is in part distinct from other cultural activities and in part a reflection of the cultural backgrounds of scientists themselves. By developing and supporting experiences that engage learners in a broad range of science practices, educators can increase the ways in which diverse learners identify with and make meaning from their informal science learning experiences.
To illustrate how nonscientists can learn to participate in science, we consider the case of Project FeederWatch. This project was specifically designed to help birdwatchers make more scientific and credible observations of birds that appear in their backyards. By interacting with scientists and using the tools of science, birders fine-tuned their observation skills, became more comfortable with the culture of science, and, in some instances, were able to make contributions to the field.