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SOLstice: Summer of Learning - Science Teachers Investigating the Chesapeake Environment
Science and Civic Issues
This innovative program, launched in 2011, brings together university faculty, practicing middle-school and upper elementary teachers and pre-service teachers (i.e., Longwood Liberal Studies students) to work collaboratively as "teacher-researchers." The Chesapeake Bay is the context in which these teacher-researchers will conduct research and consider critical curricular linkages to the middle and upper elementary school classrooms.
SOLstice will focus on the substance of the disciplines in science and the development of good "disciplinary thinking." (Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future.) Participating teacher-researchers will be immersed in both the complexity of authentic scientific investigations and the challenges of transferring scientific knowledge to multidimensional civic issues and to the classrooms.
Longwood has a 9-year association with the SENCER program (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities). Though focused on students in higher education, the SENCER Ideals are in many ways the solution to the big "turn off" to science that occurs in the middle grades. With its focus on civic engagement and the resolution of public issues through practical, engaged learning and mathematical and scientific ways of knowing, SENCER challenges students to take responsibility for their learning in a positive way.
The three-week academic design of this program perfectly mirrors the MWEE (Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience) recommendations that experiences should consist of a preparation phase, an outdoor action phase and a reflection, analysis and reporting phase.
Goals of the Course
To engage practicing and pre-service teachers actively in scientific investigation, emphasizing inquiry learning
To increase the participants’ content knowledge of selected Chesapeake Bay issues
To introduce participants to tools, techniques and technology used in field data Collection Watershed Educational Experiences for their own students
To engage practicing and pre-service teachers with practicing scientists and natural resource professionals
To reenergize practicing teachers in the disciplines that brought them into teaching in the first place
To inspire pre-service teachers to become teacher-researchers.
To introduce participants to valuable resources that can enrich their students’ classroom and field experiences
To focus on issues and environmental subjects included in the Virginia Science Standards of Learning
For the 2012 season we added a writing course to the SOLstice program, changing the acrony just a bit to Summer of Learning: Students and Teachers Investigating the Chesapeake Environment. In their writing assignments and videos students considereded variious aspects of the environment and the rich history in Westmoreland County as subjects. The writing program will continue in 2013 and we welcome area teachers to consider joining us.
Printable Fliers: Science and Civic Issues Writing