Teachers Explore Diverse Ecosystems in the Earth Institute Professional Development Program in Environmental Sustainability
The Earth Institute completed programming for the 2012 class of the Earth Institute Professional Development Program for Environmental Sustainability under the auspices of the National Science Foundation (I-TEST Division Project #0929796, PI: Degnan) as part of the Technology, Research, Ecology and Exchange for Students (TREES) Program. The program brings together graduate students, teachers and other professionals with Columbia faculty to explore diverse ecosystems, conduct field research, and develop projects or project-based curricula. Through fieldwork, presentations and workshops, participants build a strong foundation in the principles of ecology, biodiversity, human dependence on natural resources, ecosystem services, and scientific inquiry and research design. This summer, 26 middle school teachers of all disciplines from five New York City Title I schools immersed themselves in workshops on ecology, conservation science and integrated learning practices in order to apply this content to their own classrooms and schools. The two-week course examined the inter-relatedness of human society and the natural urban environment and featured a case study on hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Teachers explored urban issues of sustainability under the guidance of Columbia scientists, including Bob Newton and Matt Palmer. TREES assists teachers in designing, implementing and evaluating teaching strategies in science, technology, engineering and math, and in information, communication and technology, also known as STEM-ICT, for the study of ecology, biodiversity and environmental sustainability in urban ecosystems.