Expedition Chesapeake Launches Essay Contest for Students

February 27th, 2012 by Michael Chapaloney

Check out this promotion for Expedition Chesapeake. If your student wins the Essay Contest, they could meet Jeff Corwin on the set of Expedition Chesapeake!

The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is inviting the winner of a new essay contest to spend a day with international conservationist and educator Jeff Corwin on the set of Expedition Chesapeake during the 2012-2013 school year.

Jeff Corwin will serve as the host for the 42-minute Large Format film that is the center of Expedition Chesapeake. Corwin is perhaps the world’s best known celebrity scientist and has worked for the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems around the world. He recently launched the ABC television series Ocean Mysteries. He has also hosted a variety of popular television shows, including Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin Experience, Corwin’s Quest and Giant Monsters; Disney’s Going Wild with Jeff Corwin; Investigation Earth with the Discovery Networks; and NBC’s Jeff Corwin Unleashed, which was nominated four times for an Emmy and won an Emmy for Outstanding Host.

Students in 7th and 8th grades who live in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New York, West Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia are invited to participate in the essay contest and are asked in 500 words or less to discuss their favorite science teacher and how this teacher has had an impact on his or her learning. Complete contest rules and requirements are available by e-mailing essaycontest@expeditionchesapeake.org or by calling (717) 234-1295. One winning essay will be chosen by a committee from the Expedition Chesapeake Advisory Panel. The deadline for essay submissions is May 31, and the winning essay will be chosen before June 25.

“Whitaker Center aims to educate the next generation about important watershed issues and the environment around them. We understand the critical role that teachers play in the education of our youth, and this is an opportunity to recognize the efforts of the area’s best science teachers while also reconnecting students with their writing skills,” says Dr. Michael Hanes, President and CEO of Whitaker Center.

Expedition Chesapeake includes four related components headlined by a 42-minute Large Format film. The educational components include a television documentary, a hands-on, 4D science exhibit that will travel to science centers, and a set of online learning experiences designed to engage students throughout the six states of the watershed. The Chesapeake Bay watershed supports 17 million residents and is the largest estuary in the nation.

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Michael Chapaloney is the Director of Marketing & Sales at Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. Located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is the mid-state’s premier center for arts, education, entertainment and cultural enrichment. Composed of three main venues – Sunoco Performance Theater, Select Medical IMAX® Theater and Harsco Science Center – our mission is to serve as the center for scientific, artistic, cultural and educational activities to enhance the region’s quality of life and economic vitality. For more information, visit whitakercenter.org.

Chesapeake Bay Professional Development

February 20th, 2012 by Sarah

The DAEE Conference is a great professional development opportunity for Delaware educators.

The Wintertime Maritime Lecture Series at the Annapolis Maritime Museum is a great opportunity for educators to come and learn about the science and history of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

To produce students who are knowledgeable about the Chesapeake Bay, we first need to have bay-literate educators.  Research about the bay is constantly being conducted, so even experienced teachers can learn something new and serve the critical role of providing their students with the most up-to-date and accurate information about the environment that surrounds them.  To facilitate this process, we here at BayBackpack have pulled together a list of upcoming lecture series, workshops, and conferences that are all related to the Chesapeake Bay! Check out some of these excellent opportunities for professional development:

DAEE Annual Conference -  The Delaware Association for Environmental Education invites you to participate in their third annual conference on February 25th. Acclaimed environmental author Tom Horton will be delivering the keynote address, and the conference will feature several strands of educational sessions, exhibits, and opportunities for networking and professional development.

Wintertime Maritime Lecture Series – Museum members and the public are invited to attend any of the variety of lectures that will be hosted by the Annapolis Maritime Museum between January 19 and March 22.  Some of the upcoming presentations focus on NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, the navy’s role in the War of 1812, and the history of the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Wars (and the formation of Maryland’s Natural Resources Police).

PAEE Annual Conference – The Pennsylvania Association for Environmental Education will host its annual conference for formal and informal educators on March 16-17, 2011 at the Raystown Lake Resort and Conference Center in Entriken, PA.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Earth: The Educator’s Manual,” and the event promises to be an excellent opportunity for professional development.

2012 National Conference on Science Education – This year, the National Science Teachers Association’s annual conference will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana from March 29 –April 1.  The conference will lead the conversation on STEM, inquiry-based teaching, the Next Generation of Science Standards, assessment and other issues of importance to educators. K–16 science teachers and administrators will also be offered nearly 2000 workshops, sessions, seminars, and symposia that will raise the level of teaching, increase content knowledge, and tackle techniques and strategies that work in the classroom

Bay 101 Lecture Series – In this seven week lecture series, Horn Point Laboratory faculty share their knowledge and inform participants about the Horn Point Laboratory and the science of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. Lectures will take place on Thursdays from March 1 – April 12, 2012, and will cover a wide variety of topics, including the “Connections between Stormy Weather and Muddy Waters: Lessons from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee,” and “Jellyfish in the Chesapeake Bay.” By participating in this free lecture series, educators can learn about the Chesapeake Bay and to get inspired to teach about it in their own classrooms!

Coastal Marine Science Teacher Development Workshop – The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will be conducting this workshop for grade 6 – 12 teachers from July 15 – July 28, 2012.  This program aims to promote environmental literacy among high school and middle school teachers and students by infusing ocean science educational materials into the existing curricula. It will also provide marine science research and educational opportunities to under-represented populations. On-campus housing, meals, course credit or a stipend and a travel expense allowance will be provided to accepted participants.

Sarah Brzezinski a Chesapeake Conservancy Intern and serves as the manager of Bay Backpack. She is a former Chesapeake Research Consortium/Chesapeake Bay Program Fostering Stewardship Staffer.

Bay-Friendly Valentine’s Day Crafts

February 13th, 2012 by Sarah

Happy early Valentine’s Day! There is something special about a handmade Valentine’s Day gift.  In many elementary schools, making these home-style gifts is a part of a structured Valentine’s Day celebration tied to art curriculum standards.  Instead of making crafts from new resources this year, turn your art class into a real-world lesson in reusing and recycling!  Here are three bay-friendly craft ideas (with links to instructional craft websites) to help make recycling paper a fun, Valentine’s Day themed classroom activity:

Your students can make a Valentine's Day wreath out of recycled paper, felt, scraps of fabric or old clothes. Image courtesy of Moonlightbulb via Flickr.

1.   Make a Valentine’s Day wreath – Have students color both sides of paper from your classroom recycling bin pink and/or red, cut out swirl designs (provided in the links below), roll the paper into a flower bud-shape, and glue them to a heart shaped piece of paper or cardboard.  The paper or cardboard base should have its center cut out in the shape of a heart before students glue their “flowers” to it. These rosettes could also be made with bits of felt or old clothing, if your school allows it. Get complete directions via the following links:

If you make a plantable Valentine's Day card with your students, be sure to use native seeds! Image courtesy of Little Birdies via www.makeandtakes.com

2.   Make a seed-paper Valentine’s Day card – Have your students tear your paper recycling into little pieces, put the pieces into a blender, add water, and blend the paper into pulp.  Drain off the excess water and add seeds from a plant native to your local environment. Stir the seeds into the pulp (not using the blender!) and squeeze out any excess water.  Give each student some of the paper pulp and have them shape it into a heart or flower.  Allow the shapes to dry overnight and turn them into cards!  Full directions can be found at:

There are several types of decorative garlands you can make with your class to celebrate Valentine's Day. This is a 3-D version was created and photographed by Jessica Jones (via How About Orange blogspot).

3.   Make a decorative heart garland – Turn your class’s paper recycling or used child-friendly magazines into a garland by having students cut out heart shapes. Alternatively, students can create 3-D hearts for the garland by layering different sized hearts on top of each other, stapling the centers together and fanning out the individual pages. Once the hearts are created, the class can work together to string their individual hearts together using leftover twine. Complete directions for these craft ideas can be found at:

Sarah Brzezinski a Chesapeake Conservancy Intern and serves as the manager of Bay Backpack. She is a former Chesapeake Research Consortium/Chesapeake Bay Program Fostering Stewardship Staffer.

The STEM of Super Bowls: Teach About It!

February 6th, 2012 by Sarah

The Science of NFL Footbal was created by the NFL, NSF, and NBC Learn.

Are your students talking about the Super Bowl today? Did you know that you can use their enthusiasm about football to get them interested in Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering (STEM) fields? It’s true! There are plenty of resources available to help you use football as a tool for teaching STEM subjects.

In particular, The Science of NFL Football video series stands out as a great resource to help you teach about STEM content using one of America’s favorite pastimes. This informative series features 10 videos, each of which lasts about four to five minutes. Each video addresses a different topic, so you can decide if you want your students to learn about geometric shapes, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Kinematics, the Pythagorean Theorem, and more. Who would have thought that you can have former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington (and scientists and professors) talk to your students about vectors?

Lesson plans to accompany each of the videos are provided at http://www.lessonopoly.org/nfl. All of these resources are available for free online. These videos and lesson plans are a great way to get students who have not been traditionally interested in STEM subjects engaged, and can reinvigorate the interest of your top students.

There is also a wide variety of articles that can help you connect football to STEM subjects. Learning about these topics can help your students understand some of the cool STEM careers associated with the Super Bowl! This was the topic of our previous blog, The STEM of Super Bowls: Career Paths. You can also use these resources to talk to your students about some of the innovative technologies that have been used at Super Bowls:

Who knows? Maybe one of the students you inspire with football-related STEM lessons will grow-up to work on issues related to the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed!

Are your students talking about the Super Bowl today? Did you know that you can use their enthusiasm about football to get them interested in Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering (STEM) fields? It’s true! There are plenty of resources available to help you use football as a tool for teaching STEM subjects.

In particular, The Science of NFL Football video series stands out as a great resource to help you teach about STEM content using one of America’s favorite pastimes. This informative series features 10 videos, each of which lasts about four to five minutes. Each video addresses a different topic, so you can decide if you want your students to learn about geometric shapes, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Kinematics, the Pythagorean Theorem, and more. Who would have thought that you can have former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington (and scientists and professors) talk to your students about vectors?

Lesson plans to accompany each of the videos are provided at http://www.lessonopoly.org/nfl. All of these resources are available for free online. These videos and lesson plans are a great way to get students who have not been traditionally interested in STEM subjects engaged, and can reinvigorate the interest of your top students.

There is also a wide variety of articles that can help you connect football to STEM subjects. Learning about these topics can help your students understand some of the cool STEM careers associated with the Super Bowl! This was the topic of our previous blog, The STEM of Super Bowls: Career Paths. You can also use these resources to talk to your students about some of the innovative technologies that have been used at Super Bowls:

· Engineers in the End Zone – This article about college football stars who are also studying engineering.

· Top 5 Ways Super Bowl 2012 Supports the Environment – Did you know that nearly 60 tons of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard and glass were recycled at the Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium in 2010? Learn more about Super Bowl XLVI’s green initiatives and share the information with your students!

· Engineers Help Detect Football Injuries – Learn about how engineers are working to design football helmets that not only protect an athlete’s head from injury, but also measure the force of any impacts to determine a player’s risk having of a concussion so medical attention can be promptly provided.

· Super Bowl Replay Technology Draws on Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Expertise – Did you ever wonder about the technology that allows viewers to see a Super Bowl play as if time is frozen while a camera circles around the action? Learn more in this article.

· Going Deep: Future Technology in the NFL – This MSNBC article discusses some of the technology we could see in future NFL games. Maybe one of your students will be the person to invent it!

· Top 5 Technologies in NFL Stadiums – From enormous HDTVs to retractable grass, this article will inform your students about some of the cool technology that was used at Super Bowl XLIV.

Who knows? Maybe one of the students you inspire with football-related STEM lessons will grow-up to work on issues related to the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed!

Sarah Brzezinski a Chesapeake Conservancy Intern and serves as the manager of Bay Backpack. She is a former Chesapeake Research Consortium/Chesapeake Bay Program Fostering Stewardship Staffer.

The STEM of Super Bowls: Career Paths

February 2nd, 2012 by Sarah

Get the students in your classroom interested in Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering (STEM) fields by talking about football! Image courtesy of http://sandersonsports.com/

Football is probably not what you think of when someone mentions the Chesapeake Bay.  Personally, my mind jumps to great blue heron, osprey, blue crabs, oysters, terrapin, and bay grasses. I got a degree in environmental science because my parents and teachers inspired me to be passionate about these things, but oysters and osprey may not be interesting to all of your students.  Finding a topic that inspires your students can be a challenge, and using that topic to develop an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math  (STEM) fields, such as environmental science, can be even harder.

The importance of STEM fields is frequently called out, but the United States educational achievements in these content areas are consistently ranked behind that of other countries.  In the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) comparison, American students ranked 25th out of 30 in math literacy and 21st out of 30 in science literacy among students from developed countries.  STEM fields are essential to the growth of our economy, and all of our students should be graduating literate in these subjects. We also need more students graduating with advanced degrees in these fields to continue our country’s tradition of innovation (and to continue working on issues related to the health of the Chesapeake Bay).

A great way to get your students interested in STEM fields is to frame the conversation and the lesson plans you use around something they are already genuinely interested in.  Do you think your students will be talking about the Super Bowl on Monday?  Inviting them to talk about it during class may be a bit of a taboo, but it is one you can break if you direct the conversation towards the types of professions it takes to pull-off a Super Bowl.  Someone had to invent the technology that is used to design helmets, half-time show pyrotechnics, high-definition video cameras, and the headsets coaches use to communicate.  Have your students brainstorm a list of STEM-related professions that are needed to pull such a big sporting event off.

If your students have doubts about STEM involvement in the Super Bowl, share this bit of information with them: to broadcast and produce the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa, FL, NBC used 52 high-definition cameras, 45 vehicles (including control trucks, mobile units, office trailers and a horse trailer), 24 digital video replay sources, eight digital post-production facilities (five Avid suites and three Final Cut Pro suites), 20 hand-held cameras, five robotic cameras, two RF hand-held cameras, one “cable-cam” camera that was suspended above the field and more.  A crew of 200 people and more than 450 total production and engineering staff were working at the game (The Tech that Makes the Super Bowl Super).

STEM professionals are necessary for football to be played by athletes and enjoyed by viewers!

Be sure to check Bay Backpack’s blog on Monday; we will be featuring some lesson plans and resources that can help you Teach About the STEM of the Super Bowl!

Sarah Brzezinski a Chesapeake Conservancy Intern and serves as the manager of Bay Backpack. She is a former Chesapeake Research Consortium/Chesapeake Bay Program Fostering Stewardship Staffer.