Kindergarten to Grade 12 science teachers from across Florida, including Hillsborough County, spent four days this summer in a virtual research lab experience as part of a professional development workshop hosted by the University of Florida scientist Thompson Earth Systems Institute in every Florida School (SEFS) program titled ‘The Hydrosphere.’
Fifty-nine teachers representing 22 counties selected from a pool of 274 applicants have assisted scientists in ongoing research projects. Teachers worked with scientists to develop lesson plans that help students better understand problems with the Earth’s hydrosphere, which includes all of the water on our planet. Selected teachers will receive a stipend of $ 500 for their participation.
Brian Abramowitz, K-12 Education and Outreach Coordinator for SEFS, said interest in SEFS’s annual summer professional development workshop has increased significantly since last year, even with a shortened summer break.
“Last year we received 99 applications, and that number has more than doubled this year,” said Abramowitz. “We believe it’s thanks to word of mouth and more teachers discovering this free and innovative program.”
For the second consecutive summer, the workshop took place entirely on Zoom. Fourteen laboratories from the University of Florida, Florida State University, the St. Johns River and South Florida water management districts, EarthEcho International, the Everglades Foundation, and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center have agreed to host a small group of teachers for the week.
Scientists’ research interests range from wastewater treatment to tidal monitoring. Participating scientists have agreed to conduct at least one virtual tour of teachers’ classrooms over the next school year.
This is the third time that SEFS has organized such a workshop. Last year, 40 teachers virtually participated in similar experiments focusing on what educators call the “nature of science,” or the tools, theories and skills that scientists use to conduct research. The team hope that next summer’s workshop will be in person again.
The mission of the Scientist in Every Florida School program at the University of Florida Thompson Earth Systems Institute is to engage Florida K-12 students and teachers in cutting-edge research by providing models and experiments. scientists who inspire the future stewards of our planet. In its second year, the SEFS program coordinated more than 1,700 science visits to classrooms representing more than 400 schools, scoring 55,000 impressions of K-12 students in Florida. So far, more than 850 teachers and nearly 600 scientists have participated in the program.
More information is available at www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/earth-systems/scientist-in-every-florida-school.