Exploring Water Education Curricula – Science Teachers Training
Situation: Most K through middle school science teachers do not have a strong science background. They have expressed a need for environmental education that provides a means to introduce youth to STEM components in a fun way while they gain an interest in the subject area. Methods: The UF/IFAS Extension, Marion County partners with the Marion County Public School Board and develops an annual training for science teachers. It provides teachers with water education curricula and prepares them to use these activities in classroom. This training was conducted for 4th to 6th grade science teachers in 2015 and 2016. It was a two-day workshop featuring in-class presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and field trips. All the teaching materials incorporate STEM concepts relevant to water and meet the Florida Sunshine State Standards for 4th to 6th grades. Results: A total of 38 science teachers participated in last two years. Based on the post-survey, all of them indicated that they improved their understanding of the water education curricula and would use the curricula and activities in their classroom reaching more than 1,700 students in the 2016 school year. Three teachers who attended training in 2015 used activities such as water cycle, aquifer and water properties in their classrooms, reaching approximately 300 students in the 2015 school year. Teachers remarked that it was “a fun way to teach STEM with minimum preparation and cost”. Conclusion: This program demonstrates benefits of connecting STEM education to Extension programs and multiplier effects of the train-the-trainer approach. Training the science teachers allows the program to reach more K-12 students in a more time effective way.