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Water scientists to virtually connect with pre-K to high school students through Facebook Live

By: Jarred Shellhouse, 352-273-2599, jshellhouse@ufl.edu

Media contact: Samantha Murray, 949-735-1076, grenrosa@ufl.edu

University of Florida agricultural education and communication graduate students will connect students in pre-K through high school and their families with university water scientists in an upcoming Facebook Live event.

Earlier this semester, Jamie Loizzo, assistant professor of agricultural communication, launched a new Scientist Online graduate course focused on connecting scientists with students around the world.

The Scientist Online series is one of the newest additions to Streaming Science, a program that brings science directly to schools, clubs and students wherever there is an internet connection.

“Our original plan was to have schools register and connect with the scientists through Skype in the Classroom,” said Jacqueline Aenlle, an agricultural education and communication Ph.D. student in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “With many schools moving to remote education because of COVID-19, we changed our plan to ensure students still have the opportunity to connect with our scientists.”

In collaboration with the UF/IFAS department of soil and water sciences, the program will feature AJ Reisinger, assistant professor of urban soil and water quality. Reisinger specializes in ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry of urban environments. Through this Facebook Live event, Reisinger and the graduate students will discuss the relationship between plants, animals and humans with water ecosystems; urban watersheds and ways to apply water conservation practices at home.

“I think our program is unique because it can virtually transport students to a completely different place,” Aenlle said. “Not only do students get to ask questions and talk to the scientist, but we get to show them field sites, research labs and other workspaces that the scientists use every day.”

The program will take place at 1:30 p.m. March 31 on the Streaming Science Facebook page, facebook.com/StreamingScience. The program is anticipated to last one hour. Interested families and students can indicate their interest via the Scientist Online: The Water Around Us event on the Facebook page.

The parent program of Scientist Online, Streaming Science, started as a way for Loizzo to teach and research science communication at the college level, while also showing middle and high school students interested in science the different careers available to them.

“Thanks to visual, audio and online technologies, we can continue to leverage new and different formats for not only reaching schools, but now, we can also reach families due to coronavirus social distancing,” Loizzo said. “Streaming Science has been a way for us to connect different disciplines of science to students around the world that might not have a chance to speak with these scientists.”

In the past, Loizzo and her students have conducted electronic field trips about fire ecology and conservation, bats and alternative energy, as well as podcast episodes about hurricanes, big data and women in STEM.

Loizzo and her class of graduate students are planning to host one or two more Facebook Live programs with scientists before the semester ends. The team also encourages schools and families to utilize Streaming Science’s photo essays, videos, electronic field trip recordings and 360-degree tours for student STEM engagement and learning during COVID-19 social distancing.

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The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution.

cals.ufl.edu  @UFCALS

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