Volatility

Hi, I’m posting this here AND on iswoopparks.com because there’s some, but not total crossover in the blog subscribers. Thinking of everyone who made this Thanksgiving weekend a memorable and fun one for visitors. You rock. –Regards, Martha

On reading an interview with Galen McKinley, an expert in ocean, carbon interplay with the University of Wisconsin, one particular passage stayed with me. The interviewer said:

President Obama has called climate change trends “terrifying.” Can you explain these trends and why they are such cause for alarm?

And Galen McKinley said, “The trends are “terrifying” because our human society is built on the assumption of a stable climate.”

So true, right? Other points ring equally true.

“And we depend on now-dwindling snow packs and mountain glaciers in many other places for our drinking water. We depend on growing our crops in certain places. All these systems are threatened by climate change and this is scary because it will disrupt the ways and places humans live. … Climate change certainly doesn’t mean that all life on the planet will go away, but it will be very inconvenient …” (https://www.nelson.wisc.edu/news/story.php?story=2779).

I’ve been thinking quite a bit in the post-election era about volatility and how to plan for it rather than planning for stability. Staff in the Resource Management Division of the Park Service have a head start on this kind of thinking. How do they do it? There are two approaches I know of, mitigation and adaptation. Both require the ability to imagine and embrace scenarios we might prefer not to envision. That makes me think about an assessment for science curiosity by Weible and Zimmerman (2016). They call their instrument SCILE, Science Curiosity in Learning Environments.

Basing their work on attitude and behavior survey items for adults, Weible and Zimmerman tested a set of 30 items related to science curiosity with 663 youth ages 8-18. Through their analysis they found three critical factors : stretching, embracing, and science practices. They were then able to pare down the 30 items to 12.

I know you’re a little curious about it, so here are the items. The person being assessed would answer: This sounds like me … (always, often, sometimes, not often, never, with points ranging from 5 to 1)

I would like to invent something new.

I mix things together to see what happens.

I compare things to see if there are any changes or differences.

I like to work on problems or puzzles that have more than one answer.

I experiment with stuff to see what will happen.

I like to make things that no one else has made.

I apply new information to an existing problem to see if that helps.

When I see a word I don’t know, I look it up or ask someone what it means.

I try to learn as much as I can in new situations.

I see a challenge as a way to grow and learn.

I like to do things that might scare me a little.

I like doing exciting and unpredictable things every day.

There’s so much more to say about this research and how NPS interpreters and educators might use it. But for now, what strikes me is that I would benefit from an elevated level of science curiosity as we move into 2017. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.