On July 5-9, the University of Florida Thompson Earth Systems Institute’s Scientist in Every Florida School (SEFS) program hosted a professional development workshop for K-12 teachers titled “The Hydrosphere.” Fifty-nine Florida teachers representing 22 counties collaborated with scientists to develop lesson plans on a range of water-related issues, from wastewater treatment to tracking tides. Selected teachers received a $500 stipend for their participation in the program.
The newly developed lesson plans cover a number of water-related science topics and include variations for different age ranges and audience needs. One lesson aimed at kindergarten and first-grade students focused on using the five senses to observe different water sources and differentiate between which are clean or polluted. Another lesson plan allows students to examine seashells that were once living creatures and uses this to segue into the topic of marine animal adaptations. Some lessons also focused on student-led civic action in which students will develop their own education and awareness campaign for the Florida Everglades, then share their findings with the community, elected officials, and school administration.
The lesson plans developed during the workshop will be made available for FREE download on the TESI website in the coming months.
During the workshop, which took place online via Zoom, teachers also got the opportunity to assist scientists with their research projects.
“By working together, teachers are able to build lasting relationships with scientists,” said Brian Abramowitz, K-12 education and outreach coordinator for SEFS. “Scientists, in turn, learn teaching and communication strategies for interacting with K-12 students.”
What to know going forward
The team hopes that next summer’s workshop, which will focus on the atmosphere, will be in person again. But until then SEFS will be making the new lesson plans available for download on their website soon. Additionally, this fall SEFS will be hosting a variety of virtual learning experiences open to all curious minds. Check out our events calendar to register.
The mission of the SEFS program is to engage Florida K-12 students and teachers in cutting-edge research by providing science role models and experiences that inspire the future stewards of our planet. SEFS fulfills this mission by hosting high-quality professional development programs for K-12 teachers, matching scientists with classrooms, hosting virtual field trips and live streams and producing educational videos. Learn more: www.bit.ly/SEFSsite