Science and Teaching for Field Instructors

Materials Design Process

All BEETLES materials have been through a design process used extensively at the Lawrence Hall of Science. We design, test, rewrite, rinse, and repeat as needed. Each professional learning session and student activity has first been taught by BEETLES staff with the intended audience–we call this pilot testing. We go out in the field and try things out ourselves, then make revisions based on feedback. The revised materials are then sent off to our partners, who try them out in their programs–we call this field testing. Our field-testers give us systematic, specific, brutally honest feedback, and then we edit and revise the materials again. Sometimes we repeat this whole process if we’ve made major changes. Each professional learning session has been field-tested by at least 10 outdoor science programs, and each student activity by at least 15 field instructors in a variety of settings across the country. All drafts are reviewed and edited by BEETLES team members, science advisors and editors, until we’re satisfied. (OK, we’re actually never satisfied. It’s more like, until someone says, “enough!”). Finally, we publish each resource on our site. Then we do a little victory dance (really!), and dive into the next one.

Please keep in mind that BEETLES materials are carefully designed and tested, and they work well with a variety of groups the way they’re written. Of course, every teaching context and group of instructors or students is different. Modifications and adaptations that take into account your unique situation may make these materials work better for you and the instructors or students you work with. But we strongly recommend that the first time through, you present our materials as closely as possible to how they were tested and written. Try to get a sense of how your participants react and what kinds of decisions you have to make while presenting. When a leader rephrases and reorders a lesson they are teaching for the first time, without fully understanding how and why it was crafted the way it was, the changes often decrease the effectiveness of the materials. Once you have some direct experience with leading the activity, and a feel for how it flows, then consider making small adjustments.