Share Fair and STEMosphere is coming to Bridgewater, VA

October 24th, 2014 by Julie Walker

Share Fair is a day for educators to come together and become part of the transformation of teaching and learning.

Share Fair provides an opportunity for educators, students, and the community to come together with the leaders in K-12 innovation to experience hands-on, mind-on education methods helping to transform education and propel schools across the country toward the best 21st Century learning opportunities.

Share Fair will bring together educators from throughout the country for a free day of thought provoking and highly interactive symposia and professional development workshops (called Classroom Intensives) – to explore the theme of STEM Education: Explore. Invent. Experiment and to give educators the tools with which they can bring what they learn at Share Fair back to their classrooms.

Share Fair will also present a free, public exhibition of hands-on STEM inspired projects, titled STEMosphere, and will highlight the STEM driven innovation and creativity of multiple local institutions including…

  • Anatomy in Clay Centers
  • Augusta Health
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Bridgewater College
  • Murder at Old Fields Forensic Science
  • Explore More Discovery Museum
  • KEVA planks
  • Discovery Kids Puterbugs
  • STEM Tot Academy
  • the Jane Goodall Institute
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Virginia FIRST Robotics

So, join in the fun at Bridgewater College on Saturday, November 8, for a transformative—and fun—learning adventure, helping teachers bring innovation and technology into their classrooms, and teaching kids to love STEM—science, technology, engineering and math (and don’t forgot about the arts)—with hands-on, interactive activities and experiments!

This is a FREE, exciting event, sponsored by the Morgridge Family Foundation. The event begins at 9 a.m. for educators and 9:30 a.m. for the public.

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Julie Walker is the Chesapeake Research Consortium / Chesapeake Bay Program's Fostering Chesapeake Stewardship Staffer.

President Celebrates STEM at the 3rd White House Science Fair

June 2nd, 2014 by Julie Walker

President Obama celebrated students achievements in STEM by hosting the third annual White House Science Fair on May 27 2014. 30 states were represented in the group of 100 hundred students. From designing new apps, to solar panels, to making football helmets more concussion proof projects encompassing a wide range of STEM fields. This year the fair had a special focus on encouraging girls to pursue a career in science.  As a part of this initiative to diversify the STEM workforce he also announced a $35 million Education Department competition for teacher training programs as well as mentoring efforts.  He also singled out national science and math mentoring projects in Chicago; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis; the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina; and Wichita, Kansas as towns that will pilot new mentoring projects, and the development of new Americorps programming to offer science and technology classes for 18,000 low-income students.

One particular project from the Chesapeake Bay region was a team of five budding engineers from Baltimore,  Ekeagwu Onyekachi, 20; Jevaughn Taylor, 19; Iragena Serge Bangamwabo, 20; Abhishek Yonghang-Subba, 18; and De’onte Green, 19 , whose project was on developing a solar powered hover craft made from environmentally friendly materials. The team has already received recognition at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Baltimore STEM business Plan Competition, where they received first place.

Delaware residents Aaron Knestaut, 13, Eric Long, 14, and Max Huhn, 13, also presented an environmentally focused project at the White House. As members of the “Zero Waste” team, they are concerned at the rate at which DE landfills are filling up. Their research suggests that half of the waste ending up in landfills could be used as compost. The team suggests that implementing curbside organic composting collection in DE will extend the life of DE’s landfills significantly. The Zero waste team has received a $25,000 grant from the Columbus Foundation Community for their innovative waste project.

Julie Walker is the Chesapeake Research Consortium / Chesapeake Bay Program's Fostering Chesapeake Stewardship Staffer.

Engage Your Students in STEM and Win Technology for Your School

October 21st, 2013 by Sarah Kozicki

Enter Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Contest today!

Increasing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) knowledge and expanding STEM education and career opportunities for students is a national priority. Student achievement in STEM is key to fostering a new wave of innovators who can creatively address complex 21st century challenges.

Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Contest is an excellent opportunity to engage students in STEM while applying to win a share of $2,000,000 in technology and prizes for your school.  Samsung is asking teachers to answer the challenge:  “Show how STEM can be applied to help your local community.” Up to 255 applicants will be chosen to create their vision for this program, and then 51 teachers will be chosen to have their classes create videos addressing the challenge. Fifteen schools will win technology packages estimated at $35,000 and be invited to pitch their ideas to an expert panel of judges. Five of those schools will win prize packages estimated at $140,000 for their school and be honored at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C.

Additionally, each applicant will be eligible for the Environmental Innovation Sustainability Award, in which schools can win an additional $50,000 in Samsung technology by applying STEM to an environmental challenge in their community.

The environment is a compelling context for teaching STEM as it provides teachers with a diverse range of real-world challenges that engage students in hands-on opportunities to apply and reinforce STEM concepts across multiple subject areas. Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Contest is an opportunity for students to make a difference in their community by using technology to apply STEM to a real environmental challenge.

Learn more and apply for Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Contest at: http://www.samsung.com/us/solvefortomorrow/home.html.

Application period ends October 31.

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Sarah Kozicki is an Education Program Coordinator for National Environmental Education Week.

Why Teach About Bay Grasses?

June 17th, 2013 by Sarah

Biologists track bay grass abundance for clues about water quality. Image via Chesapeake Bay Program.

Bay 101: Bay Grasses from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.

Bay grasses, also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV, are plants that grow underwater. They are found in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its streams, creeks and rivers.  Bay grasses are a critical part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. They serve many significant ecological functions in the Bay and its tributaries, such as adding oxygen to the water, reducing shoreline erosion, providing underwater life with food and habitat, and improving water quality by trapping sediment.  Bay grasses also absorb nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, and convert them into organic matter that other aquatic life can use.

Why Should YOU Teach About Bay Grasses?

Scientific information dating back to 1937 suggests that close to 200,000 acres of bay grasses may have once grown along the Bay’s shorelines.  However, by 1984, bay grass acreage had fallen to a low of about 38,000 acres. Even today,  nutrient and sediment pollution in the water has choked or eliminated bay grasses in many areas, contributing to acreage declines throughout the Bay.

Although bay grasses are sensitive to pollution, they respond fairly quickly to improvements in the Bay’s condition. Scientists believe that having more grasses in the Bay and rivers will dramatically improve the entire ecosystem. The expectation is that as nutrient and sediment pollution decrease and water clarity improves, underwater grass acreages should expand. Experts closely monitor underwater grasses because their well-being is dependent on good local water quality.  Therefore, their abundance and density are excellent measures of the Bay’s health.

How Can YOU Teach About Bay Grasses?

There are many great ways to teach about bay grasses in your classroom.  Below, we have selected some resources to help you get started.

Featured Lesson Plans and Activities:

  • “What’s Killing the SAV?” Thinkport BayLab – In this 3-part interactive lesson, students will explore an ongoing situation in the Chesapeake Bay: the disappearance of large meadows of underwater grasses, collectively known as SAV, or submerged aquatic vegetation. They will read background and general information about the SAV, review current data about the population of the grasses, and learn why SAV are important to the Bay.
  • Grasses, Grasses Everywhere Lesson Plan – Students will investigate the properties of submerged aquatic grasses and compares them to the grass in the schoolyard. Students will learn how to observe, analyze, classify and compare grasses, organize their findings into meaningful categories, and compare and contrast two different types of grasses.
  • Photosynthesis and Respiration in Seagrass Lesson Plan – Students conduct a hands-on science experiment focusing on how different levels of light affect photosynthesis in seagrass.  This lesson is aligned to National Science Education Standards and was developed by Dr. Laura Murray, University of MD Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory.
  • “Who Killed SAV?” Lesson Plan -  This lesson plan from the Virginia Department of Education instructs students to examine four major causes of bay grass decline. Students will also defend, compare, and discriminate between arguments for and against a given factor and will evaluate the level to which certain natural and human factors led to the decline of bay grasses.
  • Build-A-Bed Activity – In this activity from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, students will build an aquatic grass bed in a small wading pool and populate it with some of the species that inhabit the aquatic grass bed. Engaging children in this activity helps teach them how submerged aquatic vegetation provides essential habitat for blue crabs, young stripped bass, and other animals.
  • Bay Backpack Teacher Resources -  Additional teacher resources about bay grasses.

Other Resources:

  • Chesapeake Bay Grasses Interactive Map – This is an excellent resource to bring decades of real world, Chesapeake Bay data to life your classroom! Using information related to water quality and the abundance of underwater grasses, this interactive map tracks changes in Bay health over time. Move through a 30-year timeline to watch fluctuations in water temperature, salinity and turbidity take place alongside changes in grass abundance, as dominant species ebb and flow and grass beds shrink and expand.  Incorporate this resource into lessons about water chemistry, estuaries, habitats, and more!
  • Learn the Issues: Bay Grasses – Have your students learn more about underwater grasses in the Bay: their role as a food source and habitat, the factors that can affect their growth and the ways in which vital beds are being restored.
  • Bay Field Guide: Bay Grasses (SAV) – Close to 20 species of submerged aquatic vegetation can be found in the Bay and its tributaries. Use this online Field Guide to learn more about these grasses. This is a great informational resource to send students to for reports or group projects.
  • Photo Essay: Biologists track bay grass abundance for clues about water quality – The abundance of underwater grasses can tell us a lot about the health of the Chesapeake Bay. This photo essay follows scientists and volunteers as they sample grasses to gauge water quality.  Not only will it help your students understand the importance of bay grasses, it can help them learn about some Bay-related STEM careers.
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.

Why Teach About Boats?

May 28th, 2013 by Sarah

Students engaged in boat-based environmental education with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Image via Chesapeake Bay Trust.

National Fishing and Boating Week is coming up!  Taking place June 1 – 9, 2013, this national celebration of fishing and boating is the perfect reason to get out on the water and experience the joys of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  It is also a great opportunity to teach about boats in your classroom.

Why Should YOU Teach About Boats?

Boats have played a huge role in shaping the history and culture of the Chesapeake watershed.  From the dugout canoes used by native peoples for transportation and fishing to the Caribbean cruise ships that now come to port in Baltimore Harbor, boats are a great topic to use to teach about the history of the Chesapeake region and the environmental changes that have occurred over time.

Boats are important for economic and trade purposes, and they provide an excellent range of recreational opportunities!  These recreational field experiences are a great way to immerse students in nature and inspire their interest in the world around them.  You can also make Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) connections by having your students build model boats and learn about buoyancy through hands-on laboratory experiments.

How Can YOU Teach About Boats?

Whether you take you students on a skipjack in the Chesapeake Bay itself or on a kayak tour of a local tributary, boats are an excellent way to get your students outside and engaged in environmental education!  Bay Backpack’s Field Studies page provides some examples of boat, canoe, and kayak trip providers.

If you can’t get your students out to a water body, try using some of these resources in the classroom:

  • Chesapeake Bay Workboats – This Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network website provides an online, interactive overview of Chesapeake Bay workboats.  In addition to providing facts about the history and use of various types of workboats, it provides information on workboat building, watermen, the oyster boom and on the overharvesting, pollution, and diseases that have challenged the survival of the Chesapeake’s historic fisheries.
  • Build a Boat That Floats – Can your students build a boat that floats?  Provide them with the materials identified in this Scholastic lesson plan and see what happens!  Your students will strengthen science, math, creative-thinking, and problem solving skills as they explore boat making.
  • Plot Your Course – The goal of this NOAA lesson plan is to have students learn what information is provided on nautical charts. Students will determine distance and direction between selected features on a nautical chart, identify obstacles to navigation, and identify the characteristics of common aid to navigation described on a nautical chart
  • Explore the Blue – This interactive, Discovery Education website that brings on-the-water experiences to life with cross-curricular lesson plans, printable outdoor activities for the family, and the popular boating and fishing game ‘Thrill of the Catch.’
  • Bay Backpack Teacher Resources – This inventory provides more boat, kayak, and canoe -related lesson plans and activities, curriculum guides, posters and maps, and other teacher resource.
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.

Taking Tech Outdoors for EE Week April 14-20, 2013

April 8th, 2013 by Sarah Kozicki

Research indicates that 77% of teachers believe using technology in the classroom increases student motivation to learn, while 75% of 1,900 surveyed educators said students who spend regular time outdoors tend to be more creative and better problem-solvers. Click the image to view the complete, downloadable infographic, Tech & Our Planet, for more stats!

As the weather begins to warm, thoughts turn to outdoor activities. Fortunately, there are many ways to take classroom learning outdoors – sometimes in unexpected ways.

Join National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) for Greening STEM: Taking Technology Outdoors, April 14-20, 2013 and explore how technology can enhance environmental learning both inside and outside the classroom.  Hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation, EE Week is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education held each year the week before Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship.

In 2012, EE Week kicked off a multi-year Greening STEM initiative on the important role the environment plays in engaging students in STEM learning and helping them solve 21st century challenges.  The environment provides a gateway to STEM learning through hands-on, real-world projects on topics like energy efficiency and resource conservation that incorporate all four pillars of STEM. For instance, David Munson, Education Director at Project Noah noted that digital tools and other technologies can draw students “into the landscape – into their communities – and can provide an important bridge between the familiarity of the digital world and the discoveries that wait for them in nature.”

Research indicates that 77% of teachers believe using technology in the classroom increases student motivation to learn, while 75% of 1,900 surveyed educators said students who spend regular time outdoors tend to be more creative and better problem-solvers.

Coming up for EE Week

Stay tuned for details about an upcoming EE Week Google+ Hangout which will provide teachers and students from around the country the opportunity to go behind the scenes with meteorologist Dan Satterfield for an interactive presentation on how cutting-edge technologies are being utilized to forecast and understand wild weather. This EE Week offering will be part of a series of biweekly Google+ Hangouts with scientists leading up to Google’s third annual Science Fair.

Educators around the country are encouraged to register free and explore how today’s technology can enhance environmental learning and develop 21st century skills in creativity, innovation, communication and collaboration.

Connect with EE Week on Facebook and Twitter to stay posted.

Sarah Kozicki is an Education Program Coordinator for National Environmental Education Week.

Green Strides Webinars: April Series

March 25th, 2013 by Sarah

The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities the tools to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental literacy, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement.>>> These are all the tools that help schools and districts move toward the aims of our U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award.  This April, the Green Strides Webinar Series will be conducted on:

The Three T’s of Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools (EPA)
April 3, 2013 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Young children are at particular risk for lead exposure. To assist with implementation of programs and policies to reduce lead in drinking water at school and child care facilities, EPA uses the 3Ts concept: Training, Testing, Telling,  each of which is an important component of a successful lead reduction program. This webinar will cover how to implement a 3T program in your school or child care facility.

Register here!

21st Century Tools for Environmental Learning in the Community (NEEF & Green Teacher)
April 3, 2013 from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Learn how to turn student engagement in media & technology tools into a powerful venue for learning. Get to know the Island Institute & their strategies for integrating & applying technology with community-based environmental education programs. Learn how to apply these strategies in your classroom to engage students in hands-on environmental learning through the application of 21st century skills and knowledge.

Register here!

Pathways to Green Jobs and Careers in Natural Resources (USDA)
April 10, 2013 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Are you prepared to enter into a meaningful green career? With record numbers of people out of work, the prospect of an emerging green economy is increasingly viewed as the light at end of a tunnel.  This webinar will feature high level participation from the USDA, experts in this emerging realm along with Green Team students who aspire to embrace Green jobs as a career pursuit.

Register here!

Greening STEM: Taking Technology Outdoors (NEEF & EPA)
April 16, 2013 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

On this webinar, participants will explore how technology can enhance environmental learning both inside and outside the classroom. EE Week will highlight the growing opportunity to engage today’s students in learning about the environment with new technologies that enable scientific research and develop 21st century skills, including creativity, innovation, communication and collaboration.

Register here!

Water, Exploration, and the Future (NASA)
April 17, 2013 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Discover all the ways NASA is learning about water here on earth and in Space.

No registration necessary. Log on here!

GreenSchool and STEM (USFS & PLT)
April 27, 2013 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Whether you’re a teacher, administrator, parent or student Green Team member, this webinar will demonstrate how STEM can be seamlessly integrated into the school curriculum using the US Forest Service /Project Learning Tree GreenSchools! Investigations and grant program as a model for schools.

Register here!

For more information on the Green Strides Webinar Series, upcoming webinars, and past webinar recordings, please visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/webinar.html

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.

What’s on Tap for EE Week 2013

March 7th, 2013 by Sarah Kozicki

Photo Credit: David Munson

Hosted by NEEF, EE Week is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education held each year the week before Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. The 2013 theme, Greening STEM: Taking Technology Outdoors, will explore how technology can enhance environmental learning both inside and outside the classroom

EE Week will highlight the growing opportunity to engage today’s students in learning about the environment with new technologies that enable scientific research and develop 21st century skills, including creativity, innovation, communication and collaboration.

Among EE Week’s offerings for K-12 educators this year are a series of webinars:

  • On March 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET, join National Geographic Education and Esri to explore tech tools that engage students in citizen science projects and connect them with their local communities.
  • Then on April 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET, join EE Week and Green Teacher to learn how the Island Institute is turning student engagement with technology tools and media into a powerful venue for learning about their environment.

Google+ Hangout

And stay tuned for more details about how teachers and students can go behind the scenes with a scientist who is utilizing cutting-edge technologies to support environmental work in an upcoming EE Week Google+ Hangout. This is slated to be part of a series of biweekly Google+ Hangouts with renowned scientists leading up to Google’s third annual Science Fair.

Register for EE Week now to take advantage of these learning opportunities. There is no cost to register and participate in EE Week.

In addition to webinars, educators who register for EE Week 2013 will be able to take advantage of:

  • A free educator toolkit including tech tools, educational resources and suggested activities for engaging students in Greening STEM learning outdoors.
  • Case studies of technology in action and the educators and programs using it to enhance environmental and STEM learning and achievement in core subject areas.
  • Discounts, giveaways and special offers from our partners on environmental education tools, resources and professional development.

Stay tuned as more offerings become available. Visit www.eeweek.org/greening_stem to learn more or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sarah Kozicki is an Education Program Coordinator for National Environmental Education Week.

Join EE Week April 15-21, Highlighting Green STEM Innovation!

April 9th, 2012 by Sarah Kozicki

National EE Week 2012 STEM and Our Planet Infographic

Increasing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) knowledge and expanding STEM education and career opportunities for students is a national priority.  A projected 2 million STEM-related jobs will be created by 2014, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Jobs relating to the environment are among those expected to see the fastest growth this decade. The National Environmental Education Foundation recently developed an infographic (image to the right) that illustrates some of this compelling data.

Recognizing the role of the environment as an impetus for STEM learning, National Environmental Education Week’s 2012 theme is Greening STEM: The Environment as Inspiration for 21st Century Learning. EE Week takes place the week before Earth Day—this year from April 15-21.

The environment is an engaging context for teaching and learning about STEM, providing real-world challenges and hands-on opportunities to apply and reinforce STEM concepts across multiple subject areas. Environmental projects such as designing a rain garden to reduce stormwater runoff or using mobile technology to identify and track invasive plants can inspire students to learn firsthand how STEM skills factor into innovative solutions to local needs.

EE Week, the nation’s largest environmental education event, offers educators environmental resources to build K-12 students’ STEM skills while increasing their knowledge about the environment

Local organizations, like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, plan to participate in EE Week 2012 by connecting area students to the Bay using high-tech water quality testing equipment and collecting data from NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS).  You can conduct similar investigations with your class by sampling the water quality of a local stream and using CBIBS data on National Geographic’s Chesapeake Bay FieldScope webtool!

To celebrate Greening STEM, EE Week offers a set of educator planning toolkits featuring STEM activities and resources focused on popular environmental topics and is offering webinars that help educators utilize cutting-edge technology to conduct a local field investigation or bioblitz within their own schoolyard or nearby nature area. EE Week will also be partnering with Earth Gauge to highlight the role STEM plays in the work meteorologists do across the country.

To participate in or learn more about EE Week, please visit www.eeweek.org.

Sarah Kozicki is an Education Program Coordinator for National Environmental Education Week.

Free Webinar on “Field Investigations and STEM” This Week!

March 26th, 2012 by Sarah
http://www.eeweek.org/webinars/field_investigations

Engage your students in outdoor learning about STEM subjects!

In 2012, National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) will be celebrated from April 15-21. The events are kicking off early this year, and this Wednesday, March 28th at 7:00 PM you can join in by participating in a free webinar about “Field Investigations and STEM.”

For this webinar, EE Week will be partnering with the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and the Pacific Education Institute (PEI) to explore how the schoolyard or local public land can provide students with the opportunity to be scientists using the skills and knowledge of inquiry to collect real-world data.  During the webinar Margaret Tudor and Pat Otto from PEI will provide teachers with information and tools to engage students in STEM learning outside, utilizing nature as a laboratory, by planning, conducting, and evaluating a field investigation.

Webinar participation information will be sent to EE Week 2012 registrants via email. Registration is free and easy and connects you to a national network of educators dedicated to increasing the environmental knowledge of K-12 students.

For additional information on this event, please visit: http://www.eeweek.org/webinars/field_investigations

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.
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