The 2015 Georgia Coastal EcoSystems Schoolyard summer workshop for teachers was held July 11-18, and was based at the UGA Marine Institute on Sapelo Island.
The workshop is part of the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems (GCE) Long Term Ecological Research Program (LTER), sponsored by the National Science Foundation. GCE-LTER studies how long-term changes caused by climate change, sea level rise, and human alterations of the landscape affect coastal ecosystems. The GCE Schoolyard Program provides critical in-service training for K-12 educators in field ecology, immersing science and math teachers in hands-on research activities in the field. The experience enables them to take the lessons learned and the actual research data back to their classrooms.
Since 2009 the Schoolyard Program has been run collaboratively with the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Marine Education Specialist John “Crawfish” Crawford was an instructor in the program, and Water Quality Program Coordinator Katy Smith presented a program entitled “Reading Between the Lines,” developed in 2012 with funding from NOAA and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative.
A hallmark of the program is its emphasis on continued participation of teachers. Long-term teacher participation allows mentoring on multiple levels and provides teachers with a sense of continuity within the research process and a depth of understanding about those processes that can never be replicated in textbooks. The program, built around long-term contact between teachers and researchers, is obtaining lasting results.
From 2000 to 2008, over 50 teachers participated in one or more sessions of the GCE-LTER program, representing 113 teacher slots and a collective impact on 11,278 students. Thirteen teachers participated in the 2015 summer program.