"After years of teaching the same topics in somewhat the same way, this experience has reminded me of the importance of looking at things from many different perspectives. One thing that I really appreciated about the scientists we worked with was that they presented ideas and gathered facts. They reminded us that we can make decisions that can and will affect our environment. That’s what we want our own students to do: think for themselves and draw their own conclusions.”
Saturday to Tuesday, August 2-5, 2014 at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education
Terrapins prey upon crabs and snail which are most often found underwater; are terrapins able to forage effectively when turbidity caused by boat activity reduces visibility? Teachers have developed their own questions, collected original data and completed their own analyses to help identify conservation concerns. These results have helped inform our understanding of human impacts not only on terrapins, but the aquatic community as a whole in Barnegat Bay and beyond. After completion of this course, teachers are confident in their understanding of the scientific method by having experienced, first-hand, the thought process that scientists implement every day.
The program included data collection, data analysis and group discussions, supported by researchers Abby Domini and Jules Winter, Ph.D.
In this field-based program teachers captured, tagged and measured terrapins, as well as collected prey items to evaluate whether visual cues used by terrapins to find prey are affected by anthropogenic activity in the bay. Most important, they learned how to observe biological patterns and how to frame research hypothesis/questions and then gather data to address those inquiries. This long-running teacher program in the US has shown that field opportunities refresh and energize teachers, inspiring them to share their first-hand experiences of the natural world with their students. They learn about environmental sustainability and gain hands-on experience in the valuable skills of scientific inquiry and observation – and their field experiences provide real-world context for teaching textbook principles.