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Sound science for Triangle teachers

By: Marie English, APNEP Special Projects Associate
November 26, 2014

Marie engages with teachers at SciREN

SciREN, the Scientific Research and Education Network, connects educators with research scientists to provide students with relevant learning experiences. APNEP attended SciREN’s first appearance in Raleigh this month at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Popularized on Twitter as #SciTri2014, the collaboration was organized by graduate students from UNC, Duke, and N.C. State and attracted over 100 STEM scientists and 300 teachers!

We prepared for the event by picking up a live blue crab from a local seafood market. After naming her Sally (another name for a female blue crab, by the way), we brought her along to help premiere two new lesson plans: the Blue Crab Unit and N.C.'s Underwater Grasses.

The teachers loved Sally! Crabs are a great live animal for demonstrations and caught the attention of many people. With a little practice, teachers can feel comfortable bringing a crab into their classrooms.

During the event, we joined local scientists to share cutting-edge research and help get students excited about STEM learning. The educators in attendance met scientists, accessed lesson plans and exchanged information for potential scientist classroom visits. APNEP contributed lesson plans incorporating research we have supported in two key areas: submerged aquatic vegetation and blue crab ecology.

Educators interacting with scientists at the N.C. Museum of Natural Science, photo courtesy of K. Irish, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences

Though both of our lesson plans were designed for high school students, we also got helpful feedback from teachers in younger grades. While we directed these teachers to our searchable K-12 lesson plan database, we hope these conversations might also lead to blue crab adaptations for middle and elementary school lessons.

Prior SciREN events generated a great response and this one was no different. The event has expanded from its marine science origins to include scientists from many STEM fields ranging from neuroscience to physics. SciREN is enhancing science literacy with relevant, local research. If you missed us this time, we’ll see you at the February event at the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium!

Looking for the lesson plans?

1. The Blue Crab Unit:
The blue crab unit was developed for APNEP by Duke Marine Lab blue crab researcher Dr. Dan Rittschof and high school teacher Amy Sauls. The lessons teach blue crab life stages, blue crab habitat, how to classify organisms and the economics of the blue crab industry in NC.

2. NC’s Underwater Grasses:
This lesson plan teaches students how we measure and track the health of the sounds. The managers (doctors) have to use vital signs (sea grass abundance) to monitor the health of the ecosystem. Students must demonstrate an understanding of how natural resources are managed through stakeholder role plays and group discussions. Using the most recent North Carolina data, students will begin to recognize the challenges of monitoring ecologically important species and develop environmental management recommendations.

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