Teachers Get Outside the Classroom
A small crowd assembles with various instruments, test sets and other equipment in preparation for the lab assignment. Carefully they organize ampules, sample nets and data sheets. These citizen scientists are sampling the waters for invertebrate animals, dissolved oxygen levels, pH (acidity) and phosphorus and nitrogen levels. This is not an indoor lab, but right on the Grasse River in Canton. This is not your ordinary teacher training session but a new experience.
In this seminar, projects focus on the world directly outside teacher's classrooms. In one project (Monitor My Maple) participants learn to identify the various maple tree species in the area. Measurements are taken and observations recorded on data sheets that are later entered online to record change over time for these trees. Data is collected to gain a greater understanding of local trends in the regional environment.
Nature up North's Summer Teacher Workshop stresses the practical application of science in everyday life. The program, based at St. Lawrence University, sponsors this workshop for up to 15 attendees from various school districts in the area each year. This year, educators have spent the two days on activities and discussions of how to make science real and applicable to students in their home districts. Instead of textbooks and distant examples, they set up trail cameras to photograph the wildlife in their own backyards. Hands on experience and greater participation for students and the community are key to this concept.