Katie Swanson, Stewardship Coordinator, talks to teachers Tammy Ladner and Liz Abel about the Reserve's marine debris monitoring program. Photo credit: Amanda Taylor.
This summer, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute presented Teachers on the Estuary professional development workshops for 42 middle and high school science teachers. The goal of the workshops was to help teachers access and use real scientific data in classroom activities that expose students to real-world problems. The topics covered in the workshops ranged from explorations of the Earth’s tectonic plate movements and ocean currents to ocean drift vegetation and the problem of marine debris.
The workshop sessions allowed teachers to practice what they will later teach to their students. The teachers visualized movements of the Earth’s tectonic plates and ocean currents on the Science-on-a-Sphere display system at the Bay Education Center, in Rockport. They were later introduced to a new visualization system for flat screens that they can use in their own classrooms to teach about plate tectonics, ocean currents, and many other Earth science topics. Teachers, including Lia Phillips from Port Aransas, use discovery scopes to peer at the surfaces of marine organisms. Photo credit: Amanda Taylor.
Teachers learned that the movements of ocean drift vegetation can tell us much about ocean currents and the global nature of marine debris. Each teacher received drift vegetation collections to take back to their classrooms. The collections were created by Coastal Bend residents, Sam and Mike Burnett, and donated by Rhonda Cummins of Texas Sea Grant. The teachers conducted a marine debris field monitoring activity, under the guidance of Katie Swanson, the Mission-Aransas Reserve’s stewardship coordinator. The teachers learned how to access real marine debris monitoring data online and apply these data in problem solving activities that they can use with students in the classroom.
The teachers who participated in the workshops were part of the Texas State Aquarium Science Collaborative, which provided a portion of the funding for the workshops. Additional funding was provided by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bay Watershed Education and Training grant and the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (Reserve).
for more information about these professional development workshops.