Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory are partnering with Bowling Green State University on a five-year National Science Foundation project that focuses on teacher professional development and student engagement in 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 new information.
Stone Lab, Ohio State's island campus on Lake Erie, will receive $224,000 to guide teacher groups in two focus areas: watersheds and aquatic life.
After an initial kickoff event and two days of training at the lab, teachers will cover the new material and begin data collection with their students, with researchers available to answer questions. A Stone Lab Science Field Trip allows students to test their collection skills in a new environment, while a classroom visit from a research scientist rounds out the experience.
"We're trying to educate teachers on how to collect relevant biological data," said Chris Winslow, assistant director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab. "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 and the BGSU Herpetology Lab, expand the themes and projects available to participants.
From students to 'citizen scientists'
The $7.2 million iEVOLVE project will train 100 teachers in five focus areas: reptiles and amphibians, butterflies, rain gardens and community gardens, watersheds, and aquatic life. iEVOLVE aims to increase student interest in science, their motivation to learn, and their mastery of state and national science standards; and to expand the use of hands-on teaching.
"To achieve this goal we will collaborate with teachers in transforming their teaching so that students learn by practicing science as citizen scientists," said project leader Bob Midden, associate professor in BGSU's Department of Chemistry. "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 6.5-acre Gibraltar Island in Put-in-Bay harbor, Stone Laboratory is the education and research facility of Ohio Sea Grant. Ohio State's Ohio Sea Grant College 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.
-- Christina Dierkes, Ohio Sea Grant Communications