Dr. Karen Talentino
Professor and Chairperson
Department of Biology
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115 USA
v: (617) 738-2191
Education, K12; Education, higher
Innovative or improved ways of doing things; More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Local commitment to network- based activities; Volunteer contributions of time and energy; Partnerships between public and private sector
Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
Video; Documentation; Slides/photographs
In 1992 Simmons College received funding from the national science foundation (NSF) to initiate a “network to improve environmental science education in New England.” This grant trains teachers in telecommunication to use electronic mail, to participate in environmental monitoring projects, and to access information using a variety of tools available on the Internet (data bases, bulletin boards, mailing lists, etc.). The forty middle and high school teacher participants are from a variety of communities throughout middle and high school teacher participants are from a variety of communities throughout New England. Teachers will produce an environmental science teaching resource guide, which will be distributed at workshops given by the teachers during the last year of the project.
During the 992 three week residential summer workshop, teachers learned to utilize the Internet and experimented with innovative teaching strategies in environmental science. Each received a modem and appropriate software to use on either a home or school computer. Most teachers have been given guest accounts at local academic institutions, which reduces the cost involved in accessing the Internet. Before the workshop, fewer than 10% of teachers had used modems. About half of the teachers now have become regular users of 3- mail, communicating with each other several times a week, sharing science resources, methods, lesson plans, etc. All but two teachers have communicated several times a month.
Since September, 1992 EnviroNet staff and teachers have created three bulletin boards on the Simmons VAX, to facilitate the teachers’ use of telecommunications. The first bulletin board displays the results of various environmental monitoring projects, which have been organized by Brewster Bartlett, one of the EnviroNet teachers from Pinkerton Academy, Derry, New Hampshire. EnviroNet teachers and their students, as well as other teachers have participated in two projects thus far, Acid Rain and Road Kill. Data on the pH of precipitation and types of road kills have been sent via email to the bulletin board where the results are posted and thus made available to everyone involved. Mr. Bartlett’s students have been particularly involved in organizing, analyzing and presenting the data from these two projects. By the use of monitoring projects, students are contributing data to a real scientific research project; it will help them understand the value and importance of scientific collaboration. New Hampshire Fish and Game and Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife have both expressed interest in the results of the Road Kill project. The second bulletin board is an electronic newsletter edited by three EnviroNet teachers. Information for the newsletter is contributed by teachers and staff of EnviroNet. The final bulletin board focuses on responses to an “Environmental Question of the Week,” posted by the project co- director, to which teachers and students respond. Previous questions have involved the controversy between conservation and development, the most important environmental problems facing the Clinton administration, and the question of whether wolves should be reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park. Most teachers use the questions as a class assignment, and often have the students post the class response. This Bulletin Board reinforces the importance of scientific communications and helps students to formulate carefully reasoned arguments on controversial questions which require scientific data to support their decisions.
During the second year of the program, teachers are working in groups to organize and develop the Environmental Science Teaching Resource Guide, which will contain information on how to use telecommunications to improve environmental science education. EnviroNet teachers will distribute these books through workshops all over New England. In addition, monitoring projects will continue, with more teachers from a wider geographic distribution.