Behind the Scenes of the Digital Learning Team

“I’m having a hard time hearing you.”

Julia Jansen and Troy Mead, educators on Pacific Science Center’s Digital Learning Team, are running through their standard Digital Discovery Workshop pre-show checklist with a teacher, but they’ve hit a technological snag.

It’s not a typical start, but for the members of PacSci’s Digital Learning team, there isn’t really a template for a “typical” virtual education experience to begin with.

Each show has multiple variables:

  • What age are the students?
  • What kind of technology does their classroom have?
  • What have they studied this year?
Onlookers view through the window at the Digital Learning Studio while Troy Mead teaches a Digital Discovery Workshop.

Student questions are answered with confidence, curriculum is modified on the fly to account for the interests of the class, and technical problems are solved—within 10 minutes, Jansen and Mead have helped solve the teacher’s sound problems. Their virtual program is ready to start.

Watching the educators work is like seeing a magic show from backstage; most teachers on the other end of the screens will remain unaware of the nuanced ways each show is modified for their classrooms’ needs. But for the educators, it’s old hat. In many ways, their ability to quickly adapt has been part of the Digital Learning Team’s DNA from the start.

What is Digital Learning?

We take a broad approach to what digital learning means. To us, it means we are using digital tools, interactives, or platforms to engage our participants in any educational activity. Sometimes that means a virtual platform to connect with our audience, like Zoom or YouTube, but it can also mean things like leveraging digital models, like a virtual planetarium. We’re always thinking about how those virtual tools can help people to experience things on a different level.

As a result, the materials and programs the Digital Learning team has created for educators are numerous.

The team has been able to create:

  • Pre-recorded shows in multiple languages
  • Reading lists for Teacher Toolkits
  • Educational partnerships
  • Digital activity guides and worksheets.

And among all of this, they’re introducing another evolution for the 2023–2024 school year: digital programs packaged with outreach Science on Wheels visits and onsite field trips, to be conducted before or after classes participate in those programs.

Troy Mead performing a Digital Discovery Workshop
Troy Mead performing a Digital Discovery Workshop.

How to Create Classroom STEM Connections

We’ve heard from educators that they’re looking for ways to connect their informal education experiences with what they’re doing in the classroom. Over the past year, the team has developed four new virtual programs: three to be paired with different Science on Wheels curricula, and one for classes that visit PacSci for a field trip.

These new programs will give those learners the chance to connect with a PacSci educator before their visit, and get them to start thinking about body systems, or the history of astronomy, or what kind of mindset you need to have to be an engineer and build that background knowledge. Or if they’re participating afterward, digital learning links aids them not just have it be a one-and-done experience.

Due to the generous giving of our many sponsors, there is funding available for qualified low-income schools to receive up to 100% off Digital Discovery Workshop rates. Typically, schools with 40% or higher free and reduced lunch percentage qualify for subsidies.

To learn more about Digital Discovery Workshops or to book a program, visit our Digital Discovery Workshops web page.