CU-Boulder, K-12 Teachers Teaming Up For Watershed Study Workshop

first_img Published: July 29, 1998 Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Twenty-one high school teachers from Colorado and other states will take on an unusual research project from Aug. 2 to Aug. 7, spending a week with scientists studying the effects of human activities in the Boulder Creek watershed.Sponsored by the University of Colorado at Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, the workshop will allow the teachers to conduct hands-on research on issues that affect the daily lives of Boulder County residents.Dubbed Earthworks, the project targets learning about the interactions of the Earth, the atmosphere, oceans, life and space. “This is a completely unconventional workshop in that there are no lectures,” said CIRES Outreach Director Alex Weaver, who is coordinating the effort with CU education doctoral student Kenneth Emo. “It is a participatory project, which is one of the most effective learning environments.”In addition to Colorado teachers, the participants include teachers from California to Missouri, said Weaver. The 21 teachers include both veteran and first-year high school science teachers.”I think the biggest benefit is that teachers can take this teaching strategy back to the classrooms and guide their students in research that is relevant to where they live,” she said. “Sometimes it is hard to generate interest or involvement in issues like rainforests or ozone depletion, but here we are dealing with local problems like Denver’s Brown Cloud.”The teachers will work with CIRES scientists during the week, collecting data on the watershed and learning about the scientific research process. CIRES is a joint institute of CU and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.One goal is to help teachers learn how to write scientific proposals to government agencies to fund innovative classroom projects, said Weaver. The workshop is funded by NASA, CU-Boulder, the Eisenhower Program and the National Science Foundation.The weeklong project will allow participants to learn about different issues facing the Boulder Creek watershed, some of which are common to many areas of the West. Teachers will work with small groups of scientists investigating issues like early mining and its impact on the watershed, the impact of agriculture on the watershed and the effects of industry, development and urban growth.The outreach effort also will address the effects of natural climate events like El Niño on the watershed and the impact of human-caused global change such as ozone depletion, said Weaver.The teachers will spend portions of three days out in the field working with CIRES scientists between Jamestown and Boulder, and the remaining time working at CIRES with CU faculty and students, she said.”This is a model project for teachers because it can help them learn how to study the local Earth system in their own communities,” said Weaver. “And it is an opportunity for CIRES scientists to share recent scientific information with people outside the research community.”last_img read more