"Marinating Middle School Science" teachers field-based learning in the local environment

"Marinating Middle School Science" Institute offers teachers field-based learning in the local environment

Teachers from across Massachusetts will build contour maps, sail on a scientific research vessel, interact with leading scientists, and engage in hands on environmental studies during the Marinating Middle School Science Institute this spring and summer. 

Funded by a $28,275 grant from the Department of Education, UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Teaching and Learning has teamed with the Fairhaven school district to host the institute, one of 51 projects approved from 110 applications. Nearly 1,500 K-12 teachers are expected to participate in this year’s content institutes across the state. These institutes are specifically geared toward helping educators heighten their knowledge and skills in the subject matter they teach, said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. 

Marinating Middle School Science, will focus on biology, chemistry, and physical science. 

Preliminary meetings are scheduled at Fairhaven High School on May 9, 16, and 23, from 3:15 – 6:15 p.m. The institute continues on the UMass Dartmouth campus on June 25-28, July 1-2, and August 1 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Individuals interested in participating must fill out a state registration and application form. The institute is free toward professional development points or has a fee of $278 for three Division of Continuing Education credits. Credits may be applied toward a Master of Arts in teaching degree in general science. 

For more information, contact Project Coordinator Trina Crowley at 910-6628 or pcrowley@umassd.edu. 

Center for Teaching and Learning Executive Director Marjorie Condon said other project partners include the Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies in Dartmouth, the New Bedford Oceanarium, UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, and Massachusetts Marine Educators at UMass Boston. She said the institute’s workshops would enhance educators’ knowledge and enable them to teach at a higher level in accordance with Education Reform’s curriculum frameworks. 

Karen Brunette, director of curriculum for Fairhaven schools, said the program’s most valuable feature is that it will allow teachers to network and share ideas and plans. Brunette also praised the institute’s hands on, component. For example, participants will collect data and analyze estuary sites in the Fairhaven-Acushnet River. They will also study on Environlab, a Groton, Connecticut-based research vessel.It’s not just a sit and lecture type situation, Brunette said. Teachers will be out in the field and gain awareness of the resources that can serve them in their classrooms. We live on the ocean and this (experience) will help participants make a connection to it, she said. 

Massachusetts Marine Educators Executive Director Jack Crowley said teachers will be given water sample kits, green seaweed, and local organisms of resistant species to put in classroom aquariums. Crowley and two other DOE Lucretia Crocker Fellows, Albert Benbenek and Jeanette Spinale, are among the institute’s instructors. Lecturers also include Kevin Stokesbury, assistant professor at SMAST, and Nancy J. O’Connor, associate professor, UMD department of biology and SMAST. 

We’re excited that our students will be inspired by what their teachers will be able to bring back into the classroom in the fall, said Brunette. We hope the students will adopt their enthusiasm.

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