1. Albert Byers, Ph.D.
  2. https://soe.vcu.edu/directory/full-directory/first--last-name-292111-en.html
  3. Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
  4. Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds
  5. https://soe.vcu.edu/news/recent-articles/soe-life-sciences-awarded-447000-noaa-grant.html
  6. Virginia Commonwealth University
  1. Elizabeth Edmondson, Ph.D.
  2. Science Educator
  3. Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds
  4. https://soe.vcu.edu/news/recent-articles/soe-life-sciences-awarded-447000-noaa-grant.html
  5. Virginia Commonwealth University
  1. Greg Garman
  2. Director
  3. Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds
  4. https://soe.vcu.edu/news/recent-articles/soe-life-sciences-awarded-447000-noaa-grant.html
  1. Lauren Johnson
  2. Graduate Teaching Assistant
  3. Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds
  4. https://soe.vcu.edu/news/recent-articles/soe-life-sciences-awarded-447000-noaa-grant.html
  5. Virginia Commonwealth University
  1. Suzanne Kirk
  2. Curriculum Coordinator
  3. Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds
  4. https://soe.vcu.edu/news/recent-articles/soe-life-sciences-awarded-447000-noaa-grant.html
  5. Virginia Commonwealth University
  1. John-Reid Ryan
  2. Graduate Assistant
  3. Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds
  4. https://soe.vcu.edu/news/recent-articles/soe-life-sciences-awarded-447000-noaa-grant.html
  1. James Vonesh
  2. Assistant Director & Professor
  3. Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds
  4. https://soe.vcu.edu/news/recent-articles/soe-life-sciences-awarded-447000-noaa-grant.html
  5. Virginia Commonwealth University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 4, 2020 | 03:09 p.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to visit view our project.

    We are in year 1 of 3 of our NOAA grant, which was truncated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We did complete most of our first year objectives, which include: a) design and delivery of our blended teacher professional learning, b) educator implementation of environmental hands-on inquiry lessons in their classrooms, c) students conducting outdoor field studies, and d) students designing their future stewardship action projects. Students were able to share their efforts and future plans at the Virginia State Capital, which they will continue and complete this fall.

    We would be interested to hear your thoughts and learn more about:

    • What are others doing that may be similar to designing and conducting a stewardship action project where they apply their learning toward a locally authentic community effort to improve their environment? How do you help students (and their teachers) design and implement an effort such as this?
    • We have enjoyed collaborating across our university with both environmental research scientists and our education faculty in science education. Balancing the volume of content, pacing of delivery/support and grade-appropriateness is a negotiated and thoughtful conversation. Incorporating teachers’ voices (input from classroom practitioners) and graduate students provides richer input and ground truths our efforts. How do others blend these large teams from varied and unique perspectives?
    • Our efforts take a school-wide approach looking at involving as many students as possible at each grade level (year one 6th grade, year two 7th grade, etc.) all working on a sustainable impact action project for the community across multiple years. What strategies and support do you see effective when working with larger numbers of students and teacher groups?
    • Partnerships for sustaining efforts beyond the life of the grant is a common challenge-and opportunity. We outlined several “strategies” in our proposal. Understanding that you do not wait till the third year to embark upon these efforts, we welcome the communities thoughts in this regard.
     
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    Suzanne Kirk
  • Icon for: Sandra Larios

    Sandra Larios

    Graduate Student
    May 5, 2020 | 09:49 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your video with the community! It is great to see that one of the goals of this work is to help students learn to become stewards of their environments. One question that comes to mind is if you have seeking advice/guidance from local elders/knowledge holders from the community to share knowledge with the participating teachers. Often times I find that environmental science/work has been framed in a way that only "scientists" hold the knowledge on how to care for the environment, but this is not necessarily true. We have communities that have been living on these lands for generations and can share cultural knowledge of the land. Incorporating this perspective into this work may help further connect students to learning and becoming lifelong stewards fo their environments as well as further educating teachers on these matters. Thank you again for sharing! 

     
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    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 6, 2020 | 09:30 a.m.

    Sandra, thank you for the question. I'll suggest that Dr. Vonesh and Dr. Garman, those that manage the VCU Center for Environmental Studies and our VCU Rice Rivers Center respond to that query regarding how our environmental scientists "interact" with our regional community across their efforts (and ours).

  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 10:09 a.m.

    Hi Sandra - Just to follow up on Al here. I think there is a tremendous opportunity to broaden the discussion on watershed issues for sure! That is one of the aspects I really liked about your video and project! In our case, scientists are not the only perspectives shared. The traditional Virginia watermen's voice is part of the oyster storyline, for sure. Similarly, in their visit with state legislators they share and interact with policymakers. But there are certainly other local perspectives we could/should cultivate. Your video made me think about reaching out to the nearby Chickahominy Indian Tribe to see if there is someone who would be willing to share about their historic and current relationship with VA coastal plain rivers and their natural resources. 

  • Icon for: Suzanne Kirk

    Suzanne Kirk

    Co-Presenter
    May 4, 2020 | 11:56 p.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video. This is the first year of a three-year project focusing on environmental issues and stewardship related to the Chesapeake Bay. We are very pleased with the work that our students and teachers have accomplished and are looking forward to year two. However, our year one activities were abruptly interrupted by school closures. I am sure that some of you faced a similar situation. I would love to hear how you dealt with that interruption and how your planning for next year has been impacted. 

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    Elise Trelegan

    Funder
    May 5, 2020 | 08:52 a.m.

    This video does an excellent job at capturing the essence of the Bivalves as Sustaining Ecosystems Treasures (BEST) project which prioritizes authentic experiences for students where they practice 21st century skills through deep inquiry of a locally relevant issue. Kudos to the team at VCU for all of their work on this project. 

     
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    Albert Byers, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 5, 2020 | 10:53 a.m.

    Thank you for the kind words Elise. Were were given and continue to receive excellent resources and support from the NOAA B-WET community, via shared community exchanges, webinars, and personal one-on-one support as requested! Thank you NOAA!

  • Icon for: Chris Dede

    Chris Dede

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 09:24 a.m.

    This is great work - relates to our earlier NSF-funded development of EcoMOBILE

    https://ecolearn.gse.harvard.edu/projects/ecomobile

     
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    James Vonesh
    Albert Byers, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 5, 2020 | 10:57 a.m.

    Chris

    Thank you for your comments and sharing this additional high impact resources incorporating both immersive and mobile (augmented realty) environmental learning experiences for Middle School Students (very powerful ways to enhance and extend deeper learning). I'll be sure to have our team review and include these for our remaining years of the grant! 

  • Icon for: Marianne Dunne

    Marianne Dunne

    K-12 Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 09:41 a.m.

    This video captures the engaging and compelling nature of a local issue that matters to teachers and students. I think the professional learning with teacher and funding transportation to the field are key elements to increasing and promoting authentic and relevant science learning. The presentations at the Virginia state house give students an excellent opportunity to see the citizen science in action! For sustainablity,I wonder if the schools where Bivalves as sustaining ecosystems treasures project has been implemented would consider teaming up with other disciplines (ELA, Social Studies, Math, Art) to make this a yearly project based learning experience or a capstone project for one of the grades. Energy in ecosystems is a big focus with the MA STE curriculum frameworks (we adapted NGSS and created grade by grade standard for middle schools). How many days did you conduct the PD and were teacher stipended for their attendance and implementation of the project? Thanks I love this project for so many reasons!

     

     
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    Suzanne Kirk
  • Icon for: Suzanne Kirk

    Suzanne Kirk

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 08:24 p.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video and your comment. To add to what my fellow presenters have shared, 2 of our schools included cross-curricular teams the other 2 were science teams: 
    Booker T. Washington in Newport News is a marine science focus school and the BEST project activities were included across the curriculum. 
    New Kent Middle School brought a diverse team of teachers who worked together to structure a grade-level wide project. 
    We would like to build on this cooperation in our future years.

  • Icon for: Elizabeth Edmondson, Ph.D.

    Elizabeth Edmondson, Ph.D.

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 09:55 a.m.

    Marianne- You bring up a wonderful component that we would like to do more with. We did two days of PD initially, we had coaching from our grad students when we were all in school, and we have a follow up day that we will conduct in June virtually. We are also paying a stipend. The teachers and students excitement is contagious. We look forward to the next two years and where we might go.

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 5, 2020 | 11:02 a.m.

    Marianne-I'll send Elizabeth's comment above and just add that we also included online support and follow-up through an online community using the NSTA Learning Center. We have a private space (and landing page), where we have a private discussion forum, shared folders of additional resources (those beyond NSTA may also be included). That, coupled with the f2f onsite, the follow-up school visits, and online supports we hope continue to provide on-going professional learning and community across implementation.

  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 10:16 a.m.

    Marianne Dunne - Thanks for your comment. This was our first year, and with some considerable curveballs, but we are excited about how things are developing. WRT teaming up with other disciplines - one area of interest that emerged from our capitol visit during the 2020 session was to better link government and policy to conservation and ecosystem management (i.e., bring in more social studies to link with the STEM). As our students were touring the capitol,  legislators were considering legislation related to water quality protections. It would be great if we could better connect these issues in future years.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Alison Heimowitz

    Alison Heimowitz

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 10:39 a.m.

    As an environmental educator, I am always excited to see projects that encourage teachers to engage students in authentic outdoor learning. Kudos! Because the environment is such a great context for learning, I am wondering how your team might expand this project to make it more interdisciplinary? In what ways could students explore the intersection between people and the environment relevant to their own community? How might this systems approach change student understanding of the environmental issue in their community and therefore their local watershed action project? 

     
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    Michael I. Swart
  • Icon for: Suzanne Kirk

    Suzanne Kirk

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 08:29 p.m.

    Hi Alison, thank you for viewing our video and sharing your thoughts. You pose excellent questions for us to consider moving forward.

    Two of our schools included cross-curricular teams the other 2 were science teams: 
    Booker T. Washington in Newport News is a marine science focus school and the BEST project activities were included across the curriculum. 
    New Kent Middle School brought a diverse team of teachers who worked together to structure a grade-level wide project. 

  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 11:01 a.m.

    Alison - thanks for your comment. I agree that there is a lot of potential to take a more multidisciplinary approach. For example, I am excited to explore in subsequent project years the link between the state government and natural resource conservation and management (see mention above) I think this could be a productive way to connect state government -> legislative process -> local communities -> student project. However, that said, we have to be careful to not overshoot the capacity of our teachers to deliver this content (given all else they must balance). 

     
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    Albert Byers, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 5, 2020 | 11:45 a.m.

    James, I definitely agree! Let me add some additional info.

    • In part, not shared via our video is our use NOAA's Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay middle school modules. We selected lessons that contained rich storylines that support an interdisciplinary approach should the schools desire to move in this direction. For example, there are lessons that talk about archeology and the historic use of oysters for the early colonists in Jamestown where excavating early settler "trash pits" discovered large fossils of buried oysters that are much larger than those of today.
    • We also cross-walked a storyline that looks at the balance between commercialism and conservation for oysters, where recently in Virginia, there was a decade historic high of fresh water rain that moved the brackish line further toward the mouth of the Chesapeake, making the harvest of some upriver aquaculture farms untenable. There are debates ensuing at the Virginia assembly committees between watermen and environmental conservationists, about if we should allow the harvesting of a sanctuary to help sustain Virginia's commercial oyster industry, and how that would be done. Great authentic cases for debate using data from opposing sides.
    • Several of the forthcoming action projects are very community centric, such as a stormwater drain campaign where students will approach their city officials to discuss awareness linked to painting the drains tied to media campaigns. Another stewardship project has students growing and recycling oysters for sanctuaries and finally one school is implementing rainwater capture methods to minimize run-off tied to their school gardens!

    Thank you for this question. We hope that combining the in-classroom lessons, tied to the data analyzed from their local field study (that included water quality testing), drives their application of the learning into a meaningful action project that benefits their community! Completely resonate with the power of inter-disciplinary learning.

     
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    David Clark
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    Flavio NSTA

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 11:09 a.m.

    Excellent video presentation - I applaud your collective efforts in providing this high-value educational experience for students and educators.  The final component, where students meet at the Capitol with their representatives to share their work, data, and findings is, as mentioned in the video, "priceless."

     
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    James Vonesh
  • Icon for: Suzanne Kirk

    Suzanne Kirk

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 08:34 p.m.

    Hi Flavio, thank you for viewing our video. Yes, the visit to the Virginia State Capitol was truly inspirational. 
    Thank you for working with us to create our NSTA Learning Center Forum. It has been central to organization and communication with our teachers and provided invaluable resources to support our curriculum.

  • May 5, 2020 | 11:43 a.m.

    I love how your project integrates science experience with policy outreach--a truly interdisciplinary experience that can activate communication between and maong students with a range of interests.

     
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    John-Reid Ryan
    Jeffrey Ram
  • Icon for: Suzanne Kirk

    Suzanne Kirk

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 08:39 p.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video and your positive comment. Yes, the Capitol visit  was a highlight of the project. We had hoped to include more outreach in which the students would engage with local organizations to share their research and concerns. Unfortunately, that was a casualty of the school closures in Virginia. We hope to continue the Capitol visit and help the students engage with their local community in the next two years. 

  • Icon for: Sharon Lynch

    Sharon Lynch

    Professor
    May 5, 2020 | 12:25 p.m.

    Congratulations on taking the project and students to the VA State Capital-- a learning experience on all sides, I am sure. 

  • Icon for: Christine Royce

    Christine Royce

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 05:36 p.m.

    It is wonderful to see the integration of subjects along with teaching about the importance of government agencies and the science they both "do" and promote.

     

     

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 5, 2020 | 09:17 p.m.

    Thanks so much Christine for the comment and observation. Indeed, Sue Kirk, Elizabeth Edmondson, James Vonesh and myself escorted teams for a busy day that ran smoothly thanks to the planning of Sue Kirk. It was special for the students to be recognized from the floor of the house of delegates and Virginia senate, and sharing their efforts with their local county representatives--which we hope to continue in successive years, improving the discussion and role of government in policy to help sustain our precious ecosystems!

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Brian Kruse

    Brian Kruse

    Director, Teacher Learning Center
    May 5, 2020 | 05:47 p.m.

    Thank you Al for sharing your project!  It looks like a very rich experience for both students and staff.  Good to see where you are these days.  Brian

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 5, 2020 | 09:20 p.m.

    Thanks Brian! I appreciate it. I"m approaching two years now post NSTA, and very much enjoying the opportunities to leverage VCU assets and resources to bring high impact STEM experiences to the highest need students and the teachers who serve them in the Richmond region (and beyond). This effort is a great collaboration with our colleagues in life sciences at VCU. I'll skip over to view your effort as well!

  • Icon for: Judi Fusco

    Judi Fusco

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 08:45 p.m.

    What an exciting project — outdoors, authentic problems, science, and students going to visit their representatives, indeed priceless.  Two starting questions:  1.  It looks like you have a lot of educators and students involved. Can you give some indication of numbers of teachers and students involved so far?   (Also, very exciting about the funding you provide teachers, that's great.)

    2.   I’d love to hear more about what teachers discussed during the professional learning sessions, can you share more about that?

    Thank you.

  • Icon for: John-Reid Ryan

    John-Reid Ryan

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 11:08 a.m.

    Hello Judi, Since Albert responded to your question about the number of students and teachers involved. I can address the discussion teachers had during their PD. 

    The discussions teachers had seemed to vary by school. But some commonalities involved: 

    1. Trying to schedule activities for the grant around SOL testing and prep (standardized testing in Virginia). 

    2. General questions about mussels regarding behavior and physiology, teachers were very interested in behavior and life history which made for good classroom activities later on. 

    3. Discussion of doing water quality monitoring or other watershed advocacy projects in creeks or other bodies of water specifically located near their schools. 

    4. Several teachers came up with different ideas of classroom activities to help with mussel and oyster restoration at their school. Each of these ideas ended up being different but for the most part they all worked great. The final products of their watershed outreach projects were a bit stunted by COVID. But all but one school got more than one day of classroom activities related to the grant. 

    Let me know what other questions you have. Thanks.

     

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Judi Fusco

    Judi Fusco

    Facilitator
    May 10, 2020 | 12:19 p.m.

    Thanks John-Reid.  Sounds exciting.  With regard to #4, how many days did schools plan to be involved before COVID?  (Stay safe!)

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 5, 2020 | 09:35 p.m.

    Thank you for your query Judi.

    I'll respond to the first part and ask Elizabeth Edmondson and Sue Kirk to chime in to the later part of your question. Two VCU life science graduate students, Jack Ryan and Casey Johnson might also share some feedback from the teachers too! They helped us deliver the teacher professional learning given their background knowledge in areas like oysters and mussel environmental research.

    The first part of your question: The Request for Proposal for NOAA's B-WET grant requests a school-wide effort where every student might be part of a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE).

    As such in our planning with our partner school districts, i.e., Charles City County, Colonial Heights, New Kent and Newport News public schools, we coordinated a 3 year grant, where every student in the 6th grade would participate in the year 1 MWEE, every 7th grader in Year 2 (with follow-up support for Year 1 on-going), and Year 3 etc.

    Based on the size of the middle school participating from each district, a team of teachers opted in to the effort. The numbers varied by the size of the middle school. In total there were approximately 13 teachers from 3 middle and one K-6 school, which in total will reach about 1,100 students each year. Colonial Heights and New Kent only have one middle school, Newport News has many (1 participating), and Charles City County Public Schools has a K-6 and 7-12 school system. 

    Funding for teacher stipends, bus/travel funds for the field experience and $800 per school mini-grants to help them implement their efforts (purchase equipment, oyster/mussel tanks, water quality testing kits, etc.) are absolutely an essential ingredient.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Sarah Bichler

    Sarah Bichler

    Researcher
    May 6, 2020 | 12:12 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful video! It's great to see kids taking on local science challenges and getting involved beyond the classroom. These teachers are putting in great efforts providing science experiences for their students and it is exciting to see you're focusing on strategies how teachers can offer such experiences past the grant.

    With respect to strategies when working with large groups of teachers (and students), some teachers could be trained as "multipliers"; become experts and then lead a group of teachers at their school.

    I'd be curious to learn more about which strategies teachers have to engage all of their students during the field activities!

    Thank you!

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 6, 2020 | 09:41 a.m.

    Sarah, great question! I'll let our Education team contribute here, Elizabeth Edmondson and Sue Kirk. 

    RE: Capital Visit:
    Indeed the capital visit was a "subset" from each school, and we also planned to have a "shark tank" showcase (not competitively scored), but a sharing and gathering feedback at the VCU Rice Rivers Center. Another group of students there would "represent" the school, and we were going to "stream" back to their schools, where many more students to view, comment/participate.

    I did attend the "kickoff" at one school, which was awesome, where the entire 6th grade was taking the full day to rotate through the daily periods, with each teacher, and even the principal, doing a different portion of their "environmental" effort. This school was  BT Washington Middle School in Newport News. 

    I'll let Elizabeth/Sue chime in on the field experiences and whatever else they desire.

     
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    Judi Fusco
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    Denielle Perry

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 6, 2020 | 12:23 a.m.

    Fantastic work! These kinds of hands on field study experiences for youth are priceless and pay in dividends. Keep up the great work team!

  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 09:49 a.m.

    Thanks, Denielle!

  • Icon for: Kenne Dibner

    Kenne Dibner

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 10:31 a.m.

    Fascinating project, and thanks so much for sharing it with us! I'd like to know a little more about how you support teachers in developing students skills related to communicating results: since a large part of the project is the students' trip to the capitol to discuss their findings and advocate for local concerns, how are students expected to build their presentations, display evidence, explain findings, etc? This part of the work is so often relegated to afterthought status, but it's clear that it's an important part of your project, so I'd love to know more! Thanks so much for this exciting presentation!

     
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    Judi Fusco
    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Elizabeth Edmondson, Ph.D.

    Elizabeth Edmondson, Ph.D.

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 11:16 a.m.

    Kenne- Wonderful question. It is definitely a work in progress. We helped the teachers and students by providing a template for their presentations/posters this first year. The teachers had the teams practice their presentations and some of our team provided feedback as students were practicing. We all definitely need to work on this area and hope to support the teachers future with not only the display but the development of claims and their reasoning from the data they collect.

     
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    Judi Fusco
    Kenne Dibner
    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 6, 2020 | 01:33 p.m.

    Kenne

    I'd like to come behind Elizabeth and contribute to this great question as well!

    The visit to share at the VA Capital is important, but just one critical component. The idea was spawned given what I observed on a larger scale at NSTA as part of the Ecybermission and Exploravison STEM competitions.

    The real effort, learning and the majority of initiative is done by the teachers and the students with the hands on investigations (drawn in part from NOAA OCB modules), the students’ local field studies capturing data on things like water quality, and the planning and execution of their stewardship action projects (forthcoming).

    The visit to the capital is more of a capstone opportunity that catalyzes and crystallizes the students’ effort to date. Having students share their efforts lends a certain gravitas to their local efforts and feeds into our sustainability plans (longer-term). In part those plans include teachers and students sharing the impacts of their efforts at their STEM Back-to-School nights, to their PTA and local chambers of commerce. Our hope is to help the schools secure visibility and financial support beyond the grant.

    In a perfect design we hope to implement next year, we want the students to even have a "dry run" at the VCU Rice Rivers Center, obtaining feedback from a panel that includes environmental scientists, grad students, and our educators, so they can "tweak" the message before they visit the capital.

    One house of delegates representative from the 57th district (Charlottesville), Mrs. Sally Hudson who serves on the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources VA Assembly Committee said to students she was meeting (paraphrasing): We can always read your infographics but it means so much more when you come and share your efforts in person and have a conversation with us about your efforts! Similarly, other members did share the importance of protecting both the commercial and conversation-based ecosystem resources along the James River.

    If interested, there is a story with many more images via a flickr album and several more videos of the capital visit that might give some more insight into how the students’ shared and were recognized. See: http://soe.vcu/edu/bwet.

    Lastly, we know the impacts can spark other conversations that might extend to other larger impacts on multiple levels. The VA Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni attended our teacher PL on a Saturday morning and observed firsthand the teachers’ hands on field stream study experience. As the session was ending he asked us if this was something that might be taken up by the current Governor’s STEM Education Commission, where more schools across the state might be able to conduct outdoor field studies. This discussion was followed up with a telecom between NOAA education and his office to explore those possibilities beyond the wonderful support NOAA provides via their BWET grants.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Kenne Dibner

    Kenne Dibner

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 11:46 a.m.

    Thanks for this - I think the opportunity to tweak the message with a preliminary conversation is really a great idea. I'd love to hear how that goes down the road. 

    One idea I had as I was thinking about this project last night is that you may want to look at the resources offered by the Urban Advantage program at the American Museum of Natural History in NY - they have a tool they use called the DSET, which helps students break down the components of a scientific explanation in a way that helps with messaging down the road. Here's a link:

    https://www.urbanadvantagenyc.org/wp-content/up...

    Fabulous video - thanks again fro sharing!

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 8, 2020 | 09:08 a.m.

    Kenne

    Thank you so much for sharing that simple and direct tool. We did provide the teachers and students with a template, and I think this guidance will be very welcome! I will be sure we share the link with our team.

    I'm on an advisory board at AMNH for the MAT program; they do wonderful work but I did not know of DSET.  I look forward to learning more. They do so much! Outstanding and thanks again.

  • Icon for: David Clark

    David Clark

    Director
    May 6, 2020 | 11:30 a.m.

    Science on the half shell, I love it.  It's a great concept to engage young students in local ecosystems they can relate to get them out of the classroom and into the natural world.  Very nice that they made presentations to state government representatives too.  It reinforces to them that they have a voice and that anyone can communicate with stake holders and decision makers.

    Addressing Dr. Byers question about forging partnerships and sustaining this program, have you thought about expanding beyond bivalves?  Maybe fisheries.  I'm thinking about local, iconic shad populations.  Maybe there are opportunities to work with state fishery departments, perhaps Virginia Institute of Marine Science? 

     
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    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Elizabeth Edmondson, Ph.D.

    Elizabeth Edmondson, Ph.D.

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 11:51 a.m.

    David- This is a wonderful suggestion. We also have sturgeon to bring into the mix. We have involved the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery which is just down the road from VCU Rice Rivers Center. We hope to continue this partnership and build from there.

     
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  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 12:05 p.m.

    Hi Dave - Thanks for the question. Moving beyond "science on the half shell"  - the James River (and tributaries) is a fabulous classroom with many relevant stories to tell. Research on the James River by VCU and partners on Atlantic Sturgeon, bald eagles, algal blooms, non-native blue catfish, shad migration, urban and rural land-use/water quality issues, and even the ecology of riverine rock pools are just a few of potential topics. We are working closely with the USFWS's Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery to provide hands-on opportunities to learn about conservation and restoration of native freshwater mussels. That said, I think we want to be wary of being too broad and I am eager to see whether our more focused approach - leveraging existing regional familiarity (and existing NOAA curriculum support) with oysters in the lower watershed to link to the generally less familiar issues of native freshwater mussel biodiversity and ecosystem services in the upper watershed - results in students having a more integrated understanding of watershed processes.

     
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  • Icon for: David Clark

    David Clark

    Director
    May 6, 2020 | 12:27 p.m.

    Hi James,

    Thanks for the feedback.  The James River sounds like a terrific resource and your team is clearly exploring multiple ecological topics to pursue there.  I wish you much continued success.

     
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  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 01:16 p.m.

    Dave - loved your Northwest Passage Project video. Left a comment for you there, if you have a moment. Is it possible VCU CES faculty member Linda Fernandez and one of our graduate students participated in your expedition?

     
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    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: David Clark

    David Clark

    Director
    May 6, 2020 | 01:50 p.m.

    Hi James,  Yes indeed, VCU was one of six minority serving institutions that participated in the Northwest Passage Project.  Linda Fernandez was the VCU faculty lead but did not join the expedition.  VCU undergrads Tristan Rivera, Mirella Sheban, and Erikca Shulze were participants on the Arctic trip. We plan to show the documentary and have a panel discussion at VCU at some future date.

     
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  • Icon for: Amanda Gunning

    Amanda Gunning

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 6, 2020 | 09:06 p.m.

    This is an inspiring project! I love the authentic student involvement in the environment and community. In terms of your concern about sustainability of the project past the funding years, perhaps if you could get some elements of your project design embedded as fixtures of the related programs, for example, you mentioned some of the graduate students as helping support teacher training - is there a possibility that type of grad student-teacher interaction could be made a permanent piece of a graduate course or program? Perhaps a service learning component?

  • Icon for: Lauren Johnson

    Lauren Johnson

    Co-Presenter
    May 10, 2020 | 07:54 p.m.

    Hi Amanda, thanks for the question! I love the idea of making graduate student-teacher interaction a permanent piece of the program. As James mentioned, graduate students are required to have professional experience credits in order to graduate. I'd imagine many of the environmental studies graduate students would love if they could work with teachers to fulfill that requirement. Personally, I found working with the teachers during the professional workshop and in the classroom to be extremely valuable. Having the opportunity to share my knowledge of bivalves and their role in the Chesapeake Bay allowed me to develop my science communication skills and have fun while doing it!

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 7, 2020 | 08:26 a.m.

    Great question Amanda. Thank you for asking. Indeed we have some other "sustainability" components or strategies to employ, AND I really like this idea! I appreciate you suggesting it. We did put funds aside in the grant for GA support, and we do have service learning course credit opportunities too! Let me let the other team members on the education or life science side contribute their thoughts.

  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 10:56 a.m.

    Hi Amanda - Thanks for checking out our video. WRT to sustaining graduate student "near peer" mentoring as a bridge between researcher, education faculty, and the schools we serve there are a number of potential options we might consider. We do have a graduate "teaching practicum" course in VCU Environmental Studies that could be leveraged. All non-thesis VCU ENVS Master's students are required to do a professional experience - and that could also be an option. In addition, there are research grants focused on bivalves that support GRAs that could, potentially, have an outreach education component. 

     
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  • Icon for: Holly Morin

    Holly Morin

    Marine Research Associate
    May 7, 2020 | 09:06 a.m.

    Hi James! VCU's work here is commendable, and I was excited when I came to this video and realized it was efforts accomplished by one of our NPP partner institutions! To build off of Dave's input above, Tristan and Mirella also presented physical oceanography Northwest Passage Project data at the recent Ocean Sciences conference in San Diego, CA, and then Ericka presented microscopic communities results with on of her research teammates at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium earlier this year as well. It has been great to see the students continue to work with the scientists and data post-expedition and share their results and experiences through different platforms. Linda has been incredibly supportive of the students and our NPP team, and has offered fantastic insight throughout the project's duration.

    A question about this watershed project, which is again, pretty fantastic and showcases a great example of how to integrate science and policy. I also really like the "stewardship action" concept. What happens with the students after they visit the Statehouse- is there an effort to maintain contact with students after they have completed the program?  Also, I completely recognize you are in year one of the project, but thoughts to scaling up and connecting with other groups studying bivalves etc. in other parallel environments (e.g. the west coast)?

     
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  • Icon for: James Vonesh

    James Vonesh

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 11:04 a.m.

    Hi Holly - We look forward to your NPP show coming to VCU in the near future! It's been a great opportunity for our students. WRT our Bivalves project - we track the student cohort. So we should be seeing many of the same faces each year. The plan is to continue to build their understanding through project years with new materials and higher-order learning objectives. The teacher, on the other hand, turnover each year. So over the space of the grant, we'll work in-depth with 1 cohort of students but teachers across all middle school grades. I am sure the SOE partners can provide more detail.

     
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    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Holly Morin

    Holly Morin

    Marine Research Associate
    May 7, 2020 | 01:03 p.m.

    Thanks, James! All very interesting. We look forward to visiting VCU in the future as well!

  • May 7, 2020 | 03:21 p.m.

    Great work.  You mentioned teacher competence and confidence?  Are these outcome measures? What is the theoretical framework undergirding your work? What types of data are you collecting from teachers? students? from , lessons, field studies, infographics, meeting with representatives and local, student persepectives on working on real-world issues with impact?  

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 7, 2020 | 07:49 p.m.

    Great questions Michael. Thank you for asking!

    Let me first preface my reply with a clarification, the NOAA B-WET grant is not a research-based grant, but one more focused on applied research practices, and closely structured to address a "Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience" which has specific components, drawn from a rich development history. See: https://www.noaa.gov/education/explainers/noaa-meaningful-watershed-educational-experience. There's many webinars, a comprehensive guidebook, and even an online self-directed course all geared toward supporting this implementation model that has the following components:

    1. Issue Definition
    2. Outdoor Field Activities
    3. Stewardship Action Projects
    4. Synthesis and conclusions

    We do have a third-party evaluator, Dr. Greg Sherman from Radford University in Virginia that employs a robust logic model. At the potential of being "way too long a post response" here's an edited excerpt from from our eval section of the proposal. I hope this may help. Please feel free to email me directly and I'd be happy to share more insight, sample survey instruments used to capture teacher and student feedback, beyond artifacts, etc.

    The overall evaluation strategies for this proposed project are based on a logic model approach, as defined by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Frechtling. Program outputs will be measured in different ways. Procedures for adapting OCB lessons will be provided during the summer workshops. These sessions will be evaluated using a Kirkpatrick Model approach measuring participant reactions, what they learned how to do as a result of the workshops, and how their practices changed as a result. These changes will be reflected in the OCB-adapted lessons they develop and implement. The program evaluator will obtain and review the lessons developed by all program participants, measuring the degree to which they align with program intentions. Formative data associated with workshop effectiveness will be provided to program designers for future improvements if necessary. Data will also be collected from the teachers related to successes and challenges associated with implementing the in-class lessons, field experiences, and stewardship action projects. In all cases, formative feedback will be solicited to inform subsequent iterations of the annual program.

    Evaluation of program outcomes will focus on the use of survey instruments to measure teacher attitudes and changes in practice associated with designing and implementing the lessons and projects for the program. Teachers will also be asked to submit reports associated with student achievement aligned to all lesson and project instructional objectives. Student attitudes will be measured using survey administered on site at the end of each semester.

    Thus as you can see, there is a mixed collection of data from observations, surveys, interviews, artifacts, being generated and used to demonstrate impact and guide future iterations of improvement. We are attempting to support the teachers' basic understanding of bivalves and their roles in sustaining our precious ecosystems along the James River, AND in providing a myriad of supports for implementing the student facing components of the MWEE,  beyond the initial workshop that include onsite school visits from our team, an online community platform, and even one-on-one support as desired. The teacher teams are really doing an awesome job in my humble opinion (as hopefully demonstrated in part from the video).

    We are employing the K12 Framework for Science Education from the National Academies and incorporating a 5E (inquiry-based approach) that draws upon the recommended 8 practices in the NGSS, incorporating locally relevant, authentic storylines as students ask their own driving questions as they explore phenomena related to river ecosystem in their own district. AND as aligned to grade appropriate Virginia Standards of Learning and the Science Curriculum Framework (grades 6-8). Our blended PD model is drawn from research as well and standards such as those published by the Council of State Science Supervisors. See: http://cosss.org/Professional-Learning

     
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  • Icon for: Judi Fusco

    Judi Fusco

    Facilitator
    May 10, 2020 | 12:43 p.m.

    Very helpful post.  Again, your project sounds fabulous.  

    On another note, I was so happy to see that you and your team found Lauren Birney's project too.  (I just looked to see if she had one this year, and found you all over there discussing.)

     

     

  • Icon for: Catherine Stimac

    Catherine Stimac

    Executive Producer, Education Productions
    May 11, 2020 | 12:20 p.m.

    Great project, well rounded and grounded in science practice.

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    Nicholas Tampio

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2020 | 06:37 p.m.

    A lot of this sounds great, but I don't think that it aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. 


    A Framework for K-12 Science Education lays the foundation for the NGSS. Open the document and do a search of the following words: "environmental hands-on inquiry lessons," "outdoor field studies," or "stewardship action projects." None of the words are in the framework.

    Go to page 262 of the framework. "Computer-based assessment offers a promising alternative. Simulations are being designed to measure not only deep conceptual understanding but also the science practices that are difficult to assess using paper-and-pencil tests or hands-on laboratory tasks." 

    The word "outdoors" appears 0 times in the framework. The word "simulations" appears 42 times.

    If you would like to understand what the NGSS portends, read about what is happening in Seattle. The NGSS lead to an education of kids doing simulations on computers, not doing investigations outdoors.

  • Icon for: Nicholas Tampio

    Nicholas Tampio

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2020 | 06:37 p.m.

    A lot of this sounds great, but I don't think that it aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. 


    A Framework for K-12 Science Education lays the foundation for the NGSS. Open the document and do a search of the following words: "environmental hands-on inquiry lessons," "outdoor field studies," or "stewardship action projects." None of the words are in the framework.

    Go to page 262 of the framework. "Computer-based assessment offers a promising alternative. Simulations are being designed to measure not only deep conceptual understanding but also the science practices that are difficult to assess using paper-and-pencil tests or hands-on laboratory tasks." 

    The word "outdoors" appears 0 times in the framework. The word "simulations" appears 42 times.

    If you would like to understand what the NGSS portends, read about what is happening in Seattle. The NGSS lead to an education of kids doing simulations on computers, not doing investigations outdoors.

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 12, 2020 | 02:52 p.m.

    Nicholas, thank you for your perspective on this forum. It’s ok if we choose to disagree or have varied understandings of different ways NGSS might be implemented.

    If learners choose to engage in understanding environmental ecosystems and the relationships between organisms regarding the same, then conducting hands-on investigations to understand the environment provides an authentic and engaging way to collect and analyze data in their local environment. This helps make the science understanding more relevant and meaningful, hopefully building off their own questions to spark intrinsic curiosity and learning. Looking at systems, cause and effect, patterns (up river / downriver) closely draws on the CCC in NGSS. The notion of moving that knowledge to “action” where learners can enact their learning into local projects we believe helps really catalyze the learning experience moving beyond inert knowledge so often forgotten or seen as less applicable to students’ daily lives. But you are correct, I am not sure about the specific use of “outdoors” being mentioned in NGSS.

    All this said, I’m also a strong believer in leveraging technology/tools where students may visualize, compare, and analyze data enabling a keener undertaking of causal relationships that might not otherwise be easily discernible. NOAA is sharing some cool resources in that regard with us too! We are looking at a wonderful sim from Iowa that allows students to analyze the impact of an ecosystem based on industrial development, agricultural, etc.

  • Icon for: Nicholas Tampio

    Nicholas Tampio

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2020 | 03:12 p.m.

    Thank you for the reply, Albert. I am rooting for you. If you can convince education policymakers to support hands-on investigations as a way to teach NGSS CCC, that would be great. 

    I wrote a book on national education standards and read many of the founding documents of the NGSS. Achieve led the development of the Common Core and the NGSS. In both cases, the plan is to identify standards that can be taught and tested on computers.  

    Have any outdoor activities ever passed the NGSS Science Peer Review Panel? Not might. Have. Because I don't think that you, Achieve, and their funders* have the same vision of science education.* 

    * "Achieve thanks Bayer Corporation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chevron for their generous support of the Peer Review Panel for Science."

     

  • Icon for: Kenneth Huff

    Kenneth Huff

    Teacher of Science
    May 12, 2020 | 10:48 a.m.

    Congratulations to you Al and the entire MWEE team for this terrific project! You mentioned so many positive aspects of this work with the students including relevant phenomena, deeper conceptual understanding, students collecting authentic data, sparking student curiosity. I could not help but to think of this infographic from the National Academies report Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12 as you described how students were engaged in this relevant phenomenon and how recommendations from the report were evident in the students performances https://www.nap.edu/resource/25216/interactive/ Thank you for sharing this work with the field.  

  • Icon for: Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Albert Byers, Ph.D.

    Lead Presenter
    Visiting Scholar, STEM Education
    May 12, 2020 | 02:43 p.m.

    Ken...It’s great to hear from you and thank you so much for the kind words!

    Indeed I appreciate you sharing that graphic from the work that Brett Moulding, and others plus your contribution on the National Academies committee that led this insightful effort. Thank you for sharing the graphic and I highly recommend many download the free PDF of the report:https://www.nap.edu/download/25216

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