Funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant,a collaboration of institutions will reach out to the 9-county region to enhance the teaching of earth/environmental science.
UNC Pembroke (UNCP), Fayetteville State University (FSU) and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) will work with 22 high school teachers and administrators in a program titled “Engaging Teachers in Research: Expanding Knowledge and Building Sustainable Earth/Environmental Science Education In Southeastern N.C.”
Twenty teachers and two administrators will be drawn from Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Robeson, Sampson and Scotland counties for a four-day summer workshop.
The $17,000 grant will support stipends and travel costs. A part of the week will be spent touring the universities’ labs and the museum.
“This is a ground floor program to establish a network among high school teachers for the future,” said Dr. Lee Phillips, a geologist and UNCP’s representative. “This is an outreach program, but we are seeking guidance from area educators about their needs in teaching science and how we can meet them.
“The other important feature is that this is a partnership between the two universities and the museum,” Dr. Phillips said.
Drs. Phillip, Senter and Steven Singletary (project coordinator) of FSU’s Department of Natural Sciences will join with Dr. Phillips and Dr. Chris Tacker, curator of geology at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, in the NSF’s Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences program.
“We’ll look at ways to interact with educators to enhance their knowledge base and allow them greater ability to translate it into the earth science classroom and their students,” Phillips said. “The participants will design a research-based program for the secondary school science teachers.”
After returning an earth/environmental requirement for high school students to the curriculum, state educators identified shortcomings in the training of science teachers who graduated before 2001. The UNCP-FSU-NCMNS program is an effort to improve in-service training for them.
The three-way collaboration blends the diverse specialty areas of the four leaders. Dr. Singletary specializes in the study of meteorite chemistry, Dr. Phillips in landscape evolution and geochemistry, Dr. Senter in dinosaur paleontology and Dr. Tacker in mineralogy and paleontology.
Outreach is not new for Dr. Phillips. It is his second grant program for high school teachers, having recently wrapped up a two-year NSF program with two colleagues called “Life of the Aquifer” in which he taught teachers about underground water and helped them to do classroom research by drilling wells at five high schools.
Drs. Phillips and Singletary are well acquainted. Two years ago, they got a $1.5 million federal grant to purchase an advanced electron probe microanalyzer for joint FSU-UNCP research.