Partners Launch EdExploreSRQ.com to Inspire Classroom Cultural and Science Experiences

Posted on August 09, 2011 by Laurey Stryker, Ed.D., Fellows Program Manager

EdExploreSRQ.com launched today with a public announcement from Sarasota County Schools. The online platform connects teachers with the many curriculum-aligned arts, science, history and cultural experiences available in our area.

The idea for the site developed following the launch of The Patterson Foundation's Cultural Connections with Students Initiative in January 2010. One of the initiative's goals was to partner with the local community to develop, design and implement sustainable programs that leverage Sarasota arts, science and history assets into an experiential and integrative curriculum.

After surveying area schoolteachers and 36 local science and cultural organizations to learn how students engage and participate in cultural experiences, surveys showed that these experiences were extremely important and supported and enhanced student learning. EdExplore was created to bring these entities together to make it easier for teachers to access the information and for students to benefit from area cultural and science experiences.

About EdExplore Logo

The EdExplore logo references a compass indicating the discoveries students will find from the 25 organizations and 71 posted “explorations” that are posted on the site. It also includes the Fibonacci spiral – a mathematical principle used in art and science – a symbol of the links between the arts and academic subjects. The logo was designed by Mina Ajrab, Sarasota County Schools webmaster and local  Venice High School and Ringling College of Art and Design graduate.

The tagline for EdExploreSRQ is “Connecting Classrooms to Community.”  Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White emphasized the important role the community can play in making the curriculum come alive in her September 2010 “Making Meaningful Connections Symposium” keynote speech. In addition, Mote Marine Laboratory Executive Director Kumar Mahadevan states the case, “There is an enormous brain trust in our community," he says. "Finding ways to connect experts and practitioners in the sciences and the arts to student learning will enrich every student experience. We all remember a pivotal moment when we became passionate about the work that drives us, and we believe this program has the power to ignite those passions.”

Igniting Collaboration

What’s in EdExplore that is so exciting?

Teachers will know that the programs within EdExplore are aligned with the curriculum and benchmarks. They can easily search by grade, subject, delivery options, time, and benchmark.  The contact at the organization, cost and descriptions are in one place. The district forms are also on the site.

For organizations, it’s a collaboration tool that strengthens the alignment of their educational programs to optimize support of classroom learning. Organizations can more easily reach schools and teachers and most importantly students.

Students benefit through easier access to inspiring experiences that often lead to deeper understanding and motivation.

For example, if you go to the site and search by “6th-8th grade,”  you'll see that 12 organizations have posted 24 explorations. You can experience a modern Hamlet from Asolo Repertory Theatre, learn about Shark Extremes from Mote Marine Laboratory, or be inspired by STEP AFRIKA! at the Van Wezel and more.

Education Foundation of Sarasota County Exploration Grants

EdExplore is both a “process” and an online tool.  The process includes continuous improvement for the database, increased participation (especially by under-served students and schools) and enhanced explorations.

In addition, The Education Foundation of Sarasota County announced it will offer Exploration Grants of up to $1,500 for individual classroom explorations and up to $5,000 for schoolwide, grade or school team projects. The first grants will be awarded this fall. These innovative grants will increase  EdExploreSRQ participation and give incentives to more fully integrate the experiences into the school and classroom.


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