95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

PS 1-1 - Bridging the gap, building the future: STEM fellows teaching global change in primary education

Monday, August 2, 2010
Exhibit Hall A, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Juliette M. Donatelli, Department of Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL, David J. Gibson, Department of Plant Biology and Center for Ecology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL, Karen Renzaglia, Department of Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, Harvey Henson, Department of Geology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, Frackson Mumba, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Sedonia D. Sipes, Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL and Kris Schachel, NSF HEART GK-12 Program Director
Background/Question/Methods Heartland Ecological/Environmental Academic Research Training (HEART) GK-12 program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded fellowship program aimed at bringing graduate students into local 6-12 grade classroom. The Heart program has four goals: 1) increase scientific literacy among school students; 2) improve teachers science content and pedagogical knowledge; 3) provide experiences for teachers in conducting scientific research; and 4) enhance long-term partnerships between the university and local schools. Our program bridges the gap between the university and local schools by involving graduate students directly with the development of ecological and environmental science curricula as well as mentoring teachers in the scientific research process. HEART GK-12 fellows and their faculty advisors partner with area middle and high school teachers to engage students in a rich array of scientific experiences through exploration of ecological concepts and phenomena. Graduate students gain a deeper understanding of their own research field, while enriching local science education. Our challenge is to engage students to conceptualize and better understand issues such as global warming through potentially biased and scientifically imprecise sources such as the popular media.

Results/Conclusions   Graduate fellows in the SIUC Heart GK-12 program have developed a series of inquiry-based labs that they have introduced and tested in their teacher-partner classrooms. An outcome of these labs has been the production of the ‘Book' and an online Wiki-page (http://sites.google.com/site/heartlandgk12/). Both of these represent a compilation of student- and teacher-tested labs that can be shared among participating teachers in our program, and to the educational community. Our GK-12 program has found that by sharing labs and building off each other's success in the classroom we are able to incorporate ecology-based experiments to each of the levels we teach. By teaching the inherently interdisciplinary field of ecology we are also teaching the importance of connecting issues, and scaling consequences from a local to a larger global scale. The interconnectedness graduate students build in the HEART GK-12 participating classrooms aids in bridging the gap and building our future.