Paper No. 155-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
INTEGRATING RESEARCH EXPERIENCES INTO HIGH SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CLASSROOMS THROUGH TEACHER-RESEARCHER PARTNERSHIPS IN AN URBAN ENVIRONMENT
In an effort to connect classroom science experiences with real-world applications that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the Teacher-Researcher Partnership Program (TRPP) was established at the University of Nebraska – Omaha (UNO) to support summer research experiences as professional development for local K-12 teachers. The six week immersion program involves teachers working closely with UNO scientists to conduct research in STEM disciplines, engage in weekly journal clubs and present research posters. The program aims to increase teacher confidence and research skills for transfer into the classroom and provides opportunities for future collaboration between participants. One result of this partnership is connecting Omaha Public School District environmental science courses with critical zone research at Glacier Creek Preserve (GCP), a 130 ha watershed owned by UNO and located 13 km from the high school. Summer research focused on methods used to investigate how the use of land, including agriculture or restored prairie, alters soils in the critical zone. Specifically, we focused on measuring soil pH and organic matter as well as soil porewater and streamwater chemistry as part of ongoing research. The next phase of the partnership will involve the implementation of similar methods and research design to restored prairie research plots at the Burke High School campus. Environmental science students will engage in real world science practices and compare their data with large-scale science investigations at GCP. Furthermore, such data will be useful to explore school landscape management options, as current landscaping is both water and labor intensive. Students can use the research to propose models for more sustainable and less cost-prohibitive landscaping options than current practices. Ultimately the teacher-researcher partnership will help implement curriculum that is inquiry-based, enhance scientific literacy and critical thinking skills using STEM techniques and technology and be reproducible across classrooms. In addition, we hope to assess the student outcomes of a teacher-researcher partnership approach for helping students develop a deeper understanding of environmental science concepts and greater engagement and interest in pursuing STEM careers.