Students and science teachers dive into Chesapeake Bay environment
, 2014

Students and science teachers dive
into Chesapeake Bay environment

Science teachers and Longwood University students recently spent a week as “teacher researchers” at Longwood’s Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County.

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Course participants and faculty examine a sample of biological diversity along the Living Shoreline at Hull Springs Farm.

The four-week course, Summer of Learning: Science Teachers Investigating the Chesapeake Environment, brought together faculty from ecology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics with practicing school teachers and students who will soon be science teachers. Representatives of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clean Virginia Waterways, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality provided additional lessons about the Chesapeake Bay, its health, and citizens’ roles in its future.

The course included a week on the Longwood campus in Farmville and two weeks of online instruction. Participants learned scientific investigation skills as well as the tools, techniques and technology used in field data collection.

“Our goal was to immerse the students in the complexity of authentic scientific investigations and also the challenges of transferring scientific knowledge to civic issues and to the school classroom,” said Dr. Patricia Lust, director of Longwood’s Liberal Studies program, which serves as the home for K-8 teacher preparation.

“We focused on civic engagement and the resolution of public issues through practical, engaged learning and mathematical and scientific ways of knowing,” said department of biological and environmental chairman and associate professor Dr. Mark Fink.

An additional goal for the course was to prepare teachers to offer meaningful watershed educational experiences for students. These experiences consisted of a preparation phase, an outdoor action phase, and a reflection, analysis and reporting phase.

“We were delighted the students spent a week here learning about the complex scientific and civic issues of the Chesapeake Bay and learning how to analyze data and use the findings in a meaningful way,” said Hull Springs Farm executive director Bobbie Burton. “After a day of learning, they enjoyed canoe trips, group dinners and evening speakers.”

Support for the course was provided by grants from the Virginia Resource Use Education Council, Enterprise Rental Cars, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Additional support came from Longwood University and the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences.

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