Columbus, OH Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory are partnering with Bowling Green State University and others on a five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation that focuses on teacher professional development and student engagement in learning and citizen science. Led by BGSU’s Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education, the iEVOLVE project is expected to reach more than 28,000 students with hands-on, innovative natural sciences education that improves learning and encourages sharing of learned information beyond the classroom.
Ohio Sea Grant will use its $224,000 sub-award to guide three teacher groups in two focus areas: watersheds and aquatic life. After an initial kick-off event and two days of training on data collection and background information at Stone Laboratory, teachers return to their classrooms to cover the new material and begin data collection with their students, with Stone Lab researchers available for questions and video conferences. A subsequent field trip back to Lake Erie allows students to test their collection skills in a new environment, and demonstrates how the learned information applies to the lake ecosystem. A classroom visit from a research scientist rounds out the experience for each group.
“We’re trying to educate teachers on how to collect relevant biological data”? says Dr. Chris Winslow, Ohio Sea Grant’s Assistant Director. “In turn, those teachers can convey that information to their students and help them connect abstract scientific ideas to real-world applications.”?
Similar courses at other partner institutions, such as the Toledo Zoo, the BGSU Herpetology Lab, and the Lucas County Soil & Water Conservation District, will introduce additional learning settings and expand the research themes and community projects available to teachers and students. Two local school districts, Sandusky City Schools and Perkins Local Schools, have committed to supporting the program, and teachers in grades 3-8 will participate in the project.
The $7.2 million iEVOLVE project will train 100 teachers in two sets of three-year professional learning communities that cover five focus areas: reptiles and amphibians, butterflies, rain gardens and community gardens, watersheds, and aquatic life. iEVOLVE aims to greatly increase student interest in science, their motivation and engagement in learning, and their mastery of state and national science standards, and expand the use of hands-on research projects as valuable teaching tools.
“To achieve this goal we will collaborate with teachers in transforming their teaching so that students learn by practicing science as citizen scientists”? explains Dr. Bob Midden, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at BGSU and the project leader. “We wanted to partner with Stone Lab because of the excellent reputation of the aquatic research program, but also because of the excellent education outreach activities that Stone Lab sponsors. We knew that Stone Lab had the facilities, resources, expertise, and experience to be an excellent partner in this project.”?
Located on the 6.5-acre Gibraltar Island in Put-in-Bay harbor, Stone Laboratory is the Ohio State University’s Island Campus on Lake Erie and the education and research facility of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.
Christina Dierkes, Ohio Sea Grant, firstname.lastname@example.org