Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM
GEOSCIENCE TEACHERS IN THE PARK: A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN NAGT AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AT MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to engage local teachers and students in geoscience education at Mammoth Cave National Park. This program furthers the goals and missions of both organizations, advancing geoscience education at all academic levels and in protecting and expanding the scientific and educational resources of this unique national park. In 2006 and 2007 NAGT has sponsored summer internships for local teachers to work with Park personnel on scientific research questions and apply results to local geoscience curricula. During the academic year, teacher interns deliver community and professional presentations about their work, adapt their summer research to school curricula and teach geoscience students in the Park as possible. Each intern receives $1,500 after the completion of their summer work, and also receives $500 to further their own formal education in the geosciences. Interns work to establish a local teacher network and recruit the next summer's interns. The goal is to develop a community of local teachers well versed in the scientific aspects of the Park and experienced in conducting geoscientific field research and teaching geoscience in this setting. After 5 internships completed, it is clear that this program is successful at Mammoth Cave National Park and shows potential for wider application. Teachers' scientific research experience in the Park has led to newly-developed classroom curricula for local middle and high schools and has led to increased use of the Park as a teaching setting. Teachers have been very enthusiastic about the program, and have reported significant professional growth. In addition, there is evidence that the intended community of practice centered on Mammoth Cave geoscience is developing. Teachers from the program have continued to collaborate on projects, and have also become promoters of the educational uses of the Park. This model shows significant promise for advancing place-based geoscience education, and NAGT is committed to supporting this program for several years to make sure this network of teachers becomes fully established. We are looking into strategies for institutionalizing this program and options for funding expansion of this program to other national parks.