Wednesday, August 5, 2009: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
San Miguel, Albuquerque Convention Center
Marion Dresner, Portland State University
Kimberly Melville-Smith, Colorado State University
Our collaboration between sites in Oregon, Puerto Rico, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona has resulted in a series of successful teacher courses that rain high school teachers to conduct ecological research. We have used conceptual modeling to document the gains in knowledge these novice scientists acquire as well as how they have proceeded to apply their learning and change their own teaching. In addition, we have begun to work with staff at Nature Centers and government offices who desire to provide their own teacher ecology training to use our methods of providing teachers with relevant field experimental training. While many nature center educational staff are trained in the sciences, they typically lack the opportunities and resources for professional development in ecology. By using relevant current ecological research and proven techniques for professional development, this collaboration creates new locally relevant opportunities for teachers to incorporate field work at local sites into their students’ work. This authenticity is the “hook” many teachers find successful in generating student interest in ecology. In addition, we provide online training material to supplement the existing technical knowledge local organizations' programs require to either improve their existing teacher training or to implement new ones. We will report on how the teachers and their high school students benefit from the training provided. We will describe how participating teachers implement successful student field projects and how ecological field work raises both understanding about how ecosystems function and enthusiasm for ecology among the students of participating teachers.