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July 18th, 2016 by Amneris Solano
RALEIGH –The 2015-16 cohort of Students Discover Kenan Fellows led a professional development institute on citizen science for middle school teachers on June 23-24, 2016.
Forty educators attended the “Students Discover: Citizen Science Summer Teacher Institute” conducted over two days at the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.
Nine Kenan Fellows along with staff members and researchers from the Museum and N.C. State’s Science House delivered content to help the teachers incorporate citizen science into their middle school curriculum. The Fellows shared their experiences of working alongside researchers at the Museum last summer on a variety of citizen science projects including surveying mammal diversity in and around school yards, collecting and analyzing data on shark teeth fossils, helping scientists isolate and identify insect pathogens associated with ants, and studying how common weeds gain beneficial microbes from different soil types.
“The three weeks that I spent at the Museum changed me more than I ever could have imagined,” said Brittany Argall, 2015-16 Kenan Fellow who worked on the Students Discover: Shark Teeth Forensics project. “It opened my mind to things that I had only dreamed of, and changed my approach to education to be more inquiry and STEM based.”
Along with Argall, the other 2015-16 Kenan Fellows who helped facilitate the institute were: Nate Bourne, Christopher Clark, Courtney Millis, Taylar Flythe, Jennifer Stalls, Denise Humphries, Cathy Belair and Jordan Hohm.
The teachers who participated in the institute collected ants and dragon flies on NC State’s Centennial Campus as part of an experiment, toured the labs at the Museum, and learned about the importance of engaging students in real science and the range of citizen science projects that exist. The Fellows demonstrated the citizen science lessons they developed as a result of their internships at the Museum last year. The participants worked closely with the Fellows to observe and practice how best to implement those lessons in their classrooms.
The institute is part of the five-year Student Discover initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (DRL-1319293) which creates opportunities for teachers and students to participate in real scientific discovery and hopefully, inspire a love of science in educators and children alike. This is the second summer for the teacher institute. Next summer, 40 more teachers will be able to apply to participate.