GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Eight Alachua County teachers will spend two days this fall at the University of Florida’s main campus learning from paleontologists about how they can use fossils to highlight key Florida learning standards about evolution, adaptations, and climate change. The professional development workshop, titled “Chewing on Change: Using Fossil Horses to Teach About Macroevolution,” is hosted by the University of Florida Thompson Earth Systems Institute’s Scientist in Every Florida School Program and funded by The Paleontological Society and Alachua County Schools.
From October 22-23, participating teachers will hear from science experts at UF, explore collections at the Florida Museum of Natural History, be provided with the Chewing on Change lesson plans and classroom resources and connect with a scientist mentor who will help co-teach the lessons in the classroom later that fall. Those who successfully complete the program will receive a $500 stipend.
Horses are one of the first well documented organisms to show how animals adapt to changes in climate,” said Stephanie Killingsworth, K-12 education and outreach coordinator at SEFS.
“By looking at horse fossils, we can learn more about climate change of the past to better plan for the future. Teaching about evolution and climate change through fossil horse teeth really provides some ‘aha’ moments as students work hands-on with 3D printed teeth from collections that have been carefully scanned and printed to provide the utmost in detail.”
Participants will leave the program with research-based lessons about horse evolution and exposure to museum collections, access to a teacher-scientist network related to the project for continued scientific support, a chance to collaborate with peers and scientists to co-teach lessons in the classroom, and a chance to expose students to scientist role models and careers in science.
But teachers aren’t the only ones benefiting. As part of a paid internship, four UF undergraduate students are working to co-teach the lessons alongside teachers. Here they will gain hands-on experience in science communication and teaching to K-12 audiences.
“I’m especially energized about this workshop since it merges undergraduate science majors from a diverse array of departments at UF with Alachua teachers to tackle hard-hitting concepts in the Florida curriculum,” Killingsworth said. “The beauty about this workshop is that it makes our museum vertebrate fossil collections accessible to audiences that normally might not ever be exposed.”
Once the workshop is complete, teachers will be expected to deliver the lesson plans, coordinate a scientist visit to their classroom in the upcoming school year, and participate in regular Zoom check-ins with the cohort.
Sources: Brian Abramowitz, email@example.com, 516-225-9390
Stephanie Killingsworth, firstname.lastname@example.org, 561-644-2397
Media contact: Alise Cross, email@example.com, 941-737-8104
EDITORS: Names and schools of selected teachers from are available upon request. Photos and videos of this year’s program will be made available shortly after it concludes.