The Park received a $24,300 grant from the National Park Service’s Parks as Classrooms
This summer area middle and high school teachers will have an opportunity to take science from the “field and forest to the lab and laptop” in a free weeklong workshop sponsored by Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its partners, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and Discover Life in America. The Smoky Mountain Science Teacher Institute will take place June 12-17, 2005, at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, although it will include field excursions to other areas in the Park.
A $24,300 grant provided by the National Park Service’s Parks as Classrooms (PaC) program will enable middle and high school teachers to spend a week immersed in hands-on learning experiences in the national park that can then be brought back to enhance the classroom science curriculum. Hands-on research will be a major focus, with the goal of training and supporting teachers to involve their students in the many “citizen science” opportunities that the Park offers.
The workshop is free to teachers and includes meals, lodging, materials, and instruction by expert scientists and experienced educators. After completing the workshop, participating teachers will also be eligible to earn a $150 stipend by testing a pilot biodiversity curriculum in their classrooms. Another component of this year’s grant is to provide teachers with educational materials that can be used in the classroom.
Each day of the workshop will focus on a particular ecological system in the Smokies, such as streams and high elevation forests. Teachers will learn about the special resources, threats, and on-going research associated with each ecological system, including the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI). The ATBI involves scientists and the public in documenting all forms of life in the Smokies. The workshop activities will also highlight relevant technologies that can be used for both scientific and educational purposes, such as Geographic Information Systems.
Interested teachers should contact Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont at 865/448-6709 or visit the Web site at http://www.gsmit.org/Programs/science_teacher_institute.html.
Registrations are due March 18, at which point the applications will be reviewed and teachers will be notified of their status. A $50 registration fee is required, but will be refunded to teachers not accepted for the 2005 workshops and to accepted teachers upon completion of the workshop. Teachers from Tennessee and North Carolina schools in communities neighboring the Park will receive first priority, as one goal of the program is to develop and strengthen relationships among the Park, its partners, and local teachers.
“The workshop aims to enhance science curriculum by increasing awareness and understanding of the biological diversity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. He continued, “National Park Service educational programs are designed to enrich lives and enhance learning, to nurture people’s appreciation for parks and other special places, and thereby helping preserve America’s heritage.”
The PaC program was created to encourage a larger educational effort and provide grant opportunities for the development and presentation of eligible educational activities. Great Smoky Mountains National Park competes nationally for the PaC grants and has been successful in receiving the grants for a variety of programs and products to enhance the educational offerings in the Park.