Thursday, August 2, 2018 - 12:30pm

Meghan Marrero, Ed.D., professor of secondary science education and co-director, Mercy College Center for STEM Education, recently traveled to the Northern California coast to address a group of marine scientists and engineers at the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Her talk, “Using Science to Change the World,” employed principles of STEM education to teach scientists, engineers and highly trained technologists to talk about their work with all types of audiences.

“There are many important issues that affect our oceans, such as offshore drilling, climate change and overfishing, to name a few,” said Marrero. “The scientific minds who are working through these issues are deeply passionate about their cause, which is to educate and involve everyone on the planet in protecting our oceans. But if they can’t communicate their findings in language the general public can understand, then it’s not going to get out there.”

During her presentation, Marrero discussed effective strategies for communicating with diverse audiences and inspiring others to take positive actions to protect ocean life. “As an example, many people have heard about the bans on plastic drinking straws, but unless they connect the bans to something meaningful to their lives, they won’t be motivated to support further research to find solutions,” she said.

Why rely on scientists to convey this information? “Marine scientists and engineers are on the leading edge of what we know about ocean life and its impact on us,” said Marrero. “I want to encourage these experts to be more effective in sharing their crucial information with all audiences, whether it’s students and teachers, the media, government, or the general public. The key is connecting with people’s values and beliefs — about their own health or that of their family, for example — and showing how that’s related to protecting our ocean.”

And the role of STEM? “STEM education gives learners the tools to look at scientific data and draw their own conclusions,” said Marrero. “Decisions based on science are better decisions. If you knew the consequences of buying single-use plastic water bottles and the negative impacts of plastics in the ocean, you might decide to carry a reusable, planet-friendly bottle instead.”