Science on the Gulf Workshops Help Schools

Science on the Gulf Workshop

Misty Alderman, an environmental education specialist with DEP’s Office of Environmental Education, speaks to Pasco County workshop participants.

The District is helping make sure school districts in Citrus, Pasco and Pinellas counties know about local resources available for teaching science, thanks to a partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

With funding from NOAA, the DEP’s Office of Environmental Education conducted two-day “Science on the Gulf” workshops in several gulf counties: Bay, Citrus, Okaloosa, Pasco, Pinellas, Santa Rosa and Wakulla. The workshops were designed to help students meet state education standards in science by using programs and materials offered by local government agencies, museums, aquariums, colleges and local industry.

“Great teachers have always harnessed the wealth of scientific and environmental expertise in their community — such as Florida’s water management districts — to enrich their science lessons and make them locally relevant,” said Greg Ira, director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Education. “The challenge is ensuring that these collaborative efforts meet the increasingly specific needs of teachers and support schools in an equitable manner. Our ‘Science on the Gulf’ workshops proved to be an effective mechanism for building more systematic relationships between teachers and science experts in the community.”

At the workshops, school district science coordinators, teachers and science educational program providers came together to determine how to fill gaps between school district needs and the resources of local science organizations. District Youth Education staff participated in summer workshops in Citrus, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

“We wanted to inform teachers about free water resources education materials and programs,” said Mary Margaret Hull, District lead communications coordinator. “This series of workshops introduced District water education resources to school districts for use in their K–12 classrooms. By being exposed to these materials, more students will learn the value of our region’s water resources.”

As a result of the partnership with DEP and NOAA, school districts will receive resource guides tailored to their counties. The guides will outline resources that are available to schools from local science education program providers. They include science education materials that can be used by teachers to meet state education standards and educational field study opportunities that provide real-world science experiences for students.