Tuesday, September 26, 2017

For Immediate Release

Educators Wade into Water Science During MITS Cape Cod Summer Institute

Buzzards Bay, MA – On Cape Cod’s coast, grades 3-8 educators dove into marine science during the July 10 – 14, 2017, Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS) Summer Professional Development Institute, “Making Waves: Exploring Water and Marine Science to Engage Your Students in Inquiry”. Through site visits to local organizations, teachers learned about many topics that fit under the umbrella of “water science”. Starting with basics like the water cycle and properties of water, teachers expanded their repertoire of resources to use with students.

Using inquiry-based activities to delve deeper into marine science, the teachers turned their attention to the wildlife that depends on Cape Cod’s water. Behind the scenes at the National Marine Life Center animal hospital, educators observed how natural and man-made factors can threaten the well-being of ocean dwellers like seals and sea turtles. Applying ichthyology knowledge gained from visits to the Thornton Burgess Society Green Briar Nature Center and the Sandwich Trout Hatchery, educators examined differences between recreational and commercial fishing practices, and even designed fishing weirs!

“Learning about fish was intriguing to me, [and I enjoyed] being around such experienced, knowledgeable and excited educators,” a teacher commented.

Exploring the topic of ecosystem health, participants observed ways water is filtered in nature. Teachers visited Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary where they investigated local vernal pool ecosystems. Educators also engineered their own water filtration systems  and visited the oyster grant in Barnstable Harbor to examine an ideal candidate species for biological filtering.

Participants visited local organizations to gain insight into real-world applications of water and marine science. At Massachusetts Maritime Academy, teachers explored the use of technology in marine science careers and learned about engineering solutions to manage wastewater. To witness sustainable, watershed-protecting business practices such as wastewater treatment and recycling washing stations, participants toured Kingman Yacht Marina. The teachers also observed professional scientists using the Science and Engineering Practices while at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) laboratories. Following these field trips, educators discussed the policy issues that surround humans’ use of water, and practiced incorporating water-related current events, like tidal power production or surface water contamination, into classroom activities.

Throughout the week, teachers gained experience using the Science and Engineering Practices to create inquiry-based, “hands-on, minds-on”, interdisciplinary STEM investigations for the classroom. By engaging in their own learning about water science and tying content back to the 2016 revised Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks, the educators added to their resources and tapped into an idea-sharing network of peers. Now that the school year has begun, these teachers will use their newly designed lessons and watch as their students dive into marine science.

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The Museum Institute for Teaching Science specializes in providing hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based STEM professional development for formal and informal educators.  For more information, visit www.mits.org or call 617-328-1515.

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