Teacher Graduate Course

The University of Maryland and Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary are announcing the launch of a three-credit UMD environmental science course for teachers at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary this coming June. This course focuses on helping teachers (K-12) to bring environmental literacy and systems thinking to their classrooms by supporting teachers in researching, learning, and teaching environmental science. Students (teachers) will engage in hands-on scientific field methods and explore a research question of their interest using the tools and methods of environmental inquiry. Group sessions also focus on pedagogy of environmental science education with an emphasis on systems thinking, a key “cross-cutting concept” highlighted by the Next Generation Science Standards.

Open to:  All K-12 teachers in Maryland

Location: Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, McCann Wetlands Center, Lothian, MD

Time: (June 19-22, 25, 27-29) 9:00am - 3:30pm, (with one hour lunch; last day goes until 4:30pm) - 3 graduate credits

Course Title: Teachers on the Estuary: Researching, Learning, & Teaching in Environmental Science

Summary:

On an earth faced with ever increasing environmental issues, an immersive systems-oriented understanding of the complex open ecosystems we are a part of gives us the best chance to overcome the many challenges we face. From algal blooms to mass extinctions to climate change, environmental crises dominate the scientific landscape and take a front seat in our daily lives.  Preeminent scientists across the globe have devoted their lives to understanding and proposing solutions to these global challenges. The solutions they propose will take generations to implement and need continued study across time and place. The work of future generations can begin today with our youngest learners whose natural curiosity about the environment is a stepping stone for a meaningful and profound understanding of both the change they can effect on a system and the system itself. A renewed focus on sustainability and the delicate equilibrium of planet Earth as well as the many environmental challenges we are facing has brought ecosystems concepts and environmental literacy to the forefront of science education.  Environmental literacy initiatives are underway in 46/50 states as of 2014 with states in varying stages of implementing environmental literacy programs with their school systems (NAAEE, 2014). The state of Maryland has an extensive history in its emphasis of environmental literacy and the sustainability of environmental systems.

This course focuses on helping teachers to bring environmental literacy and systems thinking to their classrooms.  It does so by supporting teachers in researching, learning, and teaching environmental science with an emphasis on systems thinking, a key “cross-cutting concept” highlighted by the Next Generation Science Standards. This course will focus on the use of observational and experimental methodology for the purpose of understanding environmental systems.  Participants will also graduate from the course with a portable environmental science research toolkit that they can use to facilitate students’ learning about environmental science issues around their schools.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course, the participants should be able to:

  • Critically observe a environmental system or relationships within a system to develop meaningful, investigative questions that advance the holistic understanding of a system;
  • Observe changes in an environmental system over time and collect data and analyze it to identify trends and patterns;
  • Construct explanations for observed environmental phenomenon while demonstrating an understanding of how single components of a system are interrelated;
  • Interact with environmental science experts to learn about how the system can be understood from different points of view;
  • Use tools for data collection, measurement, and analysis for addressing questions about environmental systems;
  • Develop pedagogical approaches for engaging students in the observational and experimental study of environmental systems
  • Translate knowledge of environmental systems gained into a meaningful community project/product/experience