Ostriches are the star of the show in ScienceToGo.org, a multimedia, informal learning campaign designed to engage the 500,000 commuters who ride the MBTA Red and Orange lines daily.
Funded by a $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, ScienceToGo brings environmental awareness and science education out of the classroom and into everyday life. Project partners include the Museum of Science, Hofstra University, UMass Boston, Goodman Research Group and the MBTA.
ScienceToGo.org makes T trains a traveling classroom. Through subway posters and placards, the project educates the public on the science of climate change while researches the efficacy of the new approach to teaching. The campaign features a flock of ostriches, who, instead of keeping their heads in the sand on the important issue, will share insights about climate change and how the public can get involved.
Preliminary research supported using mass-transit systems as traveling classrooms, with 80 percent of the MBTA riders surveyed indicating interest in learning more about climate science, said Prof. David Lustick of the Graduate School of Education, who is leading the project.
“Only 17 percent of the average American’s life is spent inside a formal school setting and most adults learn informally,” Lustick said. “If successful, the cost-effective model could be used on mass-transit systems across the country to address any socially relevant science topic.”
ScienceToGo.org posters and placards will change each month, as the flock inspires commuters to learn about climate change by visiting www.sciencetogo.org, engaging on Twitter with @BostonOstrich or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/sciencetogo and through a variety of smartphone applications available throughout the campaign.
Ozzie the Ostrich, a life-sized figure of a real ostrich, kicked off the campaign and the 8-foot cutout will make appearances in other locations as the campaign continues.
ScienceToGo.org comes at a critical time in researchers’ understanding of climate science. In a report recently released, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that based on the evidence, it is “extremely likely” that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming.
Project partner The Museum of Science uses the campaign as an “opportunity to explore new methods of communicating about science, and making the complex and confusing topic of climate change accessible to everyone,” says David Rabkin, the museum’s director for current science and technology.
The MBTA has provided pro-bono advertising space on placards and car cards for ScienceToGo.org, and communications agencies, Brodeur Partners and Bowman Global Change and designer Ed Hackley developed the campaign’s creative concept and design.