Guiding field trips
Involving teachers in research
You may be eligible to apply to several federal science education programs that recruit, select, and support teachers who apply for research experience in the field or laboratory. The field activities often take place during summer on board ocean research cruises or in land-based field camps, but field and lab opportunities are also scheduled during the school year.
These partnerships require investments of time by both partners but are highly collaborative. The researcher gains an understanding and involvement in translating the scientific concepts related to the research into effective teaching activities in K-12 classrooms.
You can either apply to be a scientist partner to a teacher through existing programs with annual application deadlines or locate an interested school or teacher in the area where you plan to conduct your research an determine the logistics and costs of supporting the teacher’s participation. Teachers benefit most when they have a meaningful role in data collection and follow-up communications and interest by the scientist in their classroom applications.
Another way to involve teachers and their students in research is through data collection. See the Public Participation in Research section for tips about how to set up citizen science-type projects with student as collectors of data.
Participating in scientist-teacher professional development workshops
Scientists are asked not only to provide a presentation on their research but also to make the presentation as interactive (i.e., involving experiential learning and two-way communication) as possible, to spend time informally with the teacher participants, and to provide follow-up support to develop lesson plans or units that are scientifically accurate.
The researcher can gain training and experience with interactive teaching methods and an understanding and involvement in translating the scientific concepts related to the research into effective teaching activities in K-12 classrooms.
Because lesson plans are distributed via portal websites for teaching activities, scientists can also make important contributions to K-12 science education.
Participating in virtual field trips
The Alaska SeaLife Center, a partner in COSEE Alaska, develops and provides distance delivery programs to schoolrooms in Alaska and throughout the U.S. and Canada. They combine video segments from field locations with "on the floor" demonstrations of research and interpretive exhibits at the SeaLife Center, and involve both resident and remote scientists in interactions with students in classrooms.
Virtual field trips provide researchers the opportunity to demonstrate scientific methods, to engage interest in specific study sites and organisms that are the focus of the research, and to convey the logistical and human realities of “doing science.” Virtual field trips can be an engaging method for outreach and can be extended in K-12 education by using the virtual field trip as an engaging “hook” for classroom activities that teach specific science concepts.
The best way to approach the use of this method is to find a partner (e.g., Alaska SeaLife Center contact: Laurie Stuart, lauries at alaskasealife.org; the National Park Service, the NOAA National Research Reserve System) with the capability to produce virtual field trips and to disseminate them to schools or other communication networks. Production, particularly travel to remote field sites, can be costly, so be sure that grant budgets address production costs realistically. Once produced, the virtual field trip can be archived on the web to provide extended outreach and education opportunities.
Another type of virtual field trip is an Internet activity which guides student into visiting places and times that would otherwise not be possible. You can post a webpage of links that guide students through various aspects of your research. You can make this interactive by using Google Earth™, Blogger™, YouTube™ and Google Sketchup to embed images, videos, and text into sites on Google maps. Download a free guide to learn how to do this.