DICE Educational Philosophy
The Discovery Institute for Conservation Education will design all its programs around an educational philosophy known as "place-based education." This approach will distinguish DICE programs from others in the region, as place-based education has been championed by many educators and learning theorists as the best way to increase students' academic performances.
Place-based education helps students learn about the world by first developing a deep knowledge of their own community's history, culture, and ecology--a knowledge of their own "place." Place becomes a unifying context for hands-on and inquiry-based activities, allowing students to learn by focusing on their community's needs and interests and allowing community members to become partners in every aspect of teaching and learning. The Discovery Institute for Conservation Education will offer all its programming from multiple perspectives, like Navajo, Hispanic, Hopi, Ute, and Anglo--all cultures of the Colorado Plateau.
Sense of Place (for place-based education) in three cultures of the Colorado Plateau
In English, sense of place, encompasses the meanings and attachments that places hold for people. Place-based education focuses on local and regional environments and synthesizes different ways of knowing them, leveraging the senses of place of students and teachers.
In Spanish querencia, means “a place on the ground where one feels secure, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn—a place in which we know exactly who we are—the place from which we speak our deepest beliefs.” Querencia encompasses a sense of self, drawn from a relationship to place. Querencia secures the feelings and deepest beliefs that attach the self to community and landscape.
In Navajo, Diné bikéyah means land or place of the Navajo people. The land on which the Navajo live is defined and bound by four sacred mountains. Their hogan (house) replicates their “place home,” and provides the Navajo with both a sense of place in the universe and a practical home.
The Discovery Institute for Conservation Education will offer both onsite and outreach outdoor education programs around our Colorado Plateau content areas, including:
- Hands-on interactive learning stations designed for multiple ages and diverse audiences, with all signs and other written literature in English, Navajo, and Spanish. The exhibit area will be self-guided and accommodate families, small groups of students or single users at multiple workstations facilitated by floor staff or Discovery Guides. All programs will be based in our 5 content areas.
- Outdoor Classroom elements such as Constellation Circles, Analemma, Pond and Wetlands, Nature Playscape, Animal Tracks, a Colorado River model, stream table, geo-strata wall, Vertical Axis Wind Turbines, Ethnobotany Trails and Gardens, Solar Display Panel, Dendrochronology benches, and a Wildlife Puzzle.
- Onsite education programs for K-12 students and teachers within the Visitor Center that enhance and supplement a school’s core curriculum. The programs will be facilitated by “Discovery Guides,” who will be trained education professionals and intimately familiar with all exhibits and place-based education. Astronomy will be a special part of our outdoor classroom with a complete roll-off roof observatory, already on site.
- Teacher education programs, offered both as onsite and outreach programs that build on and complement the successful teacher professional development program established in 1998 by FCS – The Bioregional Outdoor Education Project. Professional development at CCDC will ultimately lead to certification in place-based education.
- Education outreach, in which staff will travel to communities on the Colorado Plateau to provide programs to schools and other interested residents. For teachers and school groups, outreach will offset the costs and legal limitations of traveling long distances and/or out-of-state.
- Research programs directed by a Ph.D. Research Director, who will oversee short and long-term visiting researchers and their students. Proposed research themes include sustainable agriculture; renewable resources and alternative technologies; technologies applicable to invasive species control, hydrology, meteorology, mineralogy, and resources use; and teacher professional development. A small field lab will be available for researchers as well.
- Conference/community meeting hall and classroom The 2,000 square foot dividable area will be used for astronomy, archaeology, science, and other conference groups, local clubs and special events as well as regional groups and lectures and will accommodate up to one hundred-fifty participants. CCDC classes will also be held here and a “bouldering” wall will be used for after school activities.
- The “Discovery Theater” will be a small and complete theater space within the conference space, that will host science programs, movies, and workshops. In off hours, the space will be available to local or regional theater groups; high school drama, speech and other clubs; and to groups or individuals who wish to rent the space for small community events.
- After-school and evening programs, workshops, and lectures will be open to the public and focused on the Discovery Center’s content areas. These programs and events will be opportunities for in-house research teams, faculty, or guests of the community to present their work, be it professional or amateur.
- Certification programs that will include outdoor leadership, range/recreation technician, archaeology technician, and place-based education certification.