SPRY Foundation - Setting Priorities for Retirement Years
The SPRY Foundation launches Science Across the Generations: A Hands-on, Intergenerational Program in Science, Mathematics, and Technology

WASHINGTON, DC - December 5, 2001
"The SPRY (Setting Priorities for Retirement Years) Foundation (www.spry.org) has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) (www.nsf.gov) to support a hands-on, intergenerational program in science, mathematics, and technology for older adults and elementary-age children. The project, known as Science Across the Generations, will develop twenty educational modules, covering topics that range from static electricity to growing gardens; from energy around the home to how weather affects our lives. The OASIS Institute (www.oasisnet.org) will implement the modules in ten cities across the United States.

Generations will use science, math, and technology principles as the common foundation upon which people from two generations can learn, discover, and grow together. "For example," says Dr. Ann Benbow, Director of Adult Learning and Technology at the SPRY Foundation and Principal Investigator of the project, "Many children are highly adept with computer technologies, and can share those skills with their older adult partners. Many older adults, on the other hand, bring a lifetime of knowledge and experience in these areas. Generations will give everyone a chance to learn more about how these concepts have an impact on their world."

The intergenerational modules will be disseminated through a collaborative effort with the OASIS Institute, a non-profit education organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people aged 50 and older. OASIS will conduct intergenerational workshops, tutoring, computer workshops, and museum programs in ten of their 25 cities across the United States, providing facilities, volunteer networks, and links with schools and communities. "We're thrilled to be a partner in this project," says Marcia Kerz, Chief Operating Officer of the OASIS Institute. "It will offer opportunities for older adults who are curious about science to approach a variety of topics in a new way."

The project was partly inspired by the NSF-funded Disney Animation Studios science interstitials called Find Out Why, which were developed as part of the NSF's 50th Anniversary Celebration and interspersed with Saturday morning cartoons last year. According to Sylvia James, Program Officer for the NSF Division of Informal Science Education, "Our aim is to advance the public understanding of science. Although we have many programs that include parent/child and adult/child interactions, none have an impact on the number of older adults that Generations will."

Generations will also demonstrate the value of learning from one another. "This project will really help us understand the importance of intergenerational settings as a new way to approach learning concepts from a community-based perspective," says Dr. Russell Morgan, President of the SPRY Foundation. "We need to identify new ways to support each other as we navigate through life's different stages. This project takes an important first step in that direction." Marylen Mann, President of the OASIS Institute, agrees, "The intergenerational approach will add a connection with youth and a socialization opportunity that traditional science education doesn't include."

From a research perspective, the project will contribute to the growing body of knowledge about learning styles. "There is a lot we don't know about how older adults and children approach the same problem-solving situations - this is something that SPRY is particularly interested in understanding," says Benbow. "We hope that this project will give us more insight into the strategies that older adults use to gain information, acquire skills, and solve problems."

The SPRY Foundation is the non-profit research and education branch of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (www.ncpssm.org), based in Washington, D.C., that is dedicated to helping people age successfully. SPRY conducts research and develops educational programs within four domains, including financial, health and wellness, mental health and social environment, and intellectual pursuits. The OASIS Institute creates voluntary service opportunities for older adults, and facilitates educational programming in arts, humanities, technology, and health promotion.

For more information about Science Across the Generations, click here, or contact Jeff Allum at 202-216-8462 or allumj@nspssm.org.

For more information about OASIS, contact Pat Gilbert at 314-862-2933 or pgilbert@oasisnet.org.

For further information contact:
Jeff Allum
(202) 216-8462

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