This summer, a team of four Long Island science teachers will be among the first to attend ECO Classroom, a nationwide teacher development program created by the Northrop Grumman Foundation in collaboration with Conservation International.
The program is designed to provide middle and high school science teachers with the resources and hands-on learning opportunities they need to inspire students to pursue science and technical careers and to become future environmental stewards and innovators.
Elizabeth Platt from Smithtown High School West; Kimberly Christian from Smithtown High School East; Lillian Vitalo from Nesaquake Middle School and Adrienne Davis from Brentwood High School Ross Campus will join with teacher teams from Maryland, Illinois and California to participate in the program.
"We are very excited about this program and we are thrilled to have these very impressive science teachers as our first group to participate in the hands-on environmental experience of ECO Classroom," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the NGF. "This program will give these 16 teachers the insight and inspiration to pass on real scientific observation and discovery directly to their students and communities.”
In July, the teacher teams will travel to CI's Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM) Volcan Barva site in La Selva Biological Station and Braulio Carrillo National Park in Costa Rica. Living and working with scientists, they will conduct hands-on research, collect data on biodiversity and study long-term ecological impact.
"We are delighted that these 16 teachers have the opportunity to visit our TEAM site in Costa Rica to learn firsthand field data collection methods," said Sandy Andelman, vice president at CI. "We believe that supporting professional development opportunities for teachers will have the greatest impact on engaging students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. We expect this program will help cultivate the next generation of environmental stewards."
The goal of the program is to equip teachers with an in-depth understanding of the interrelationship between biodiversity, climate change, and human activities and return them to their classrooms with new techniques and resources that will enhance their teaching through real-world curricula and hands-on experiences for students.
As students learn about the natural world and the importance of healthy ecosystems, they develop the awareness and skills necessary to tackle the increasingly complex environmental challenges we face—potential extinctions, crop failures, habitat loss and temperature fluctuations. However, both educators and policymakers acknowledge that insufficient numbers of students are entering into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to meet the growing demands of these challenges.
“We believe that providing a hands-on environmental experience to science teachers will give them insight and inspiration that they can pass on to their students as well as other teachers, stimulating an increase in the pursuit of STEM degrees and careers, especially in the environmental sciences,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the NGF.
Committed to education, and with a strong focus on the importance of international environmental sustainability to the health and security of future generations, the NGF has been sponsoring programs to inspire teachers for many years. Recognizing that our national and global security is directly connected to international conservation efforts and the next generation of scientists and engineers, the NGF believes that environmental literacy must be a top priority for our students.
Through science, policy and field work, CI works in nearly 30 countries on four continents to protect our ecosystems and to create sustainable initiatives that will benefit future generations. The organization helps communities, countries and societies protect tropical forests, grasslands, rivers, wetlands, lakes and the sea.
Note: Beginning this fall, information regarding the summer of 2013 ECO Classroom application will be available. For more about the program click here.
SOURCES: Northrop Grumman Foundation, Conservation International