Savannah State University, the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) are joining hands to enhance science education in local schools through infusion of local research into the classrooms.
The three organizations are working together in a five-year program to engage graduate marine science students from Savannah State into science classes in neighboring schools. The “Building Ocean Literacy Program” is funded by a $2.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) GK-12 Program. The program will provide fellowships to eight graduate students in Savannah State’s Marine Sciences Program who will be partnered with K-12 teachers to deliver enhanced classroom instruction. The goal of the NSF GK-12 Program is to ensure that universities are producing scientists capable of communicating the results and significance of their research to broad audiences.
During summer breaks, teachers will have opportunities to participate in a workshop, in a research cruise aboard Skidaway Institute’s Research Vessel Savannah, and collaborate with the graduate fellows and Savannah State and Skidaway Institute faculty on research in the local estuaries.
“We want to promote the interest of K-12 students in the sciences, with an emphasis on coastal issues, and also improve the incorporation of marine sciences into the classroom curriculum” said Savannah State professor Carol Pride. “In addition, we hope to improve the communication skills of the graduate students to discuss science issues beyond the boundaries of a university campus.”
The graduate fellows will receive special training in communication, team work, and teaching skills through a K-12 training course and a weekly seminar. They will be paired with science teachers at Thunderbolt Elementary Marine Science Academy, Charles Ellis Montessori Academy, Sol C. Johnson High School, and the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. The graduate students will work with their teacher-partners to enhance hands-on instruction and to develop curriculum specific to their thesis research in the local marine ecosystem.
“The school system is excited to work with Savannah State and Skidaway Institute to give the teachers the ability to link topics in the Georgia Performance Standards to relevant, real-world situations,” said Horace Magwood III, Director of Science Instruction with the SCCPSS. “The summer research opportunities will certainly ignite a passion for science research with our teachers which will pass on to their students.”
Another key component to the program will be scientific research in the local estuaries and marshes. The teachers, graduate fellows, faculty mentors and K-12 classes will participate in monitoring of local estuaries and marshes, including monitoring water quality, sediment properties, and marine life.
“By including hands-on research in this program, the public school teachers and students will get a taste of what scientific research is all about”, said Skidaway Institute professor Peter Verity. “Science is more than lectures in a classroom,” Verity said. “The excitement of science is in the discovery of new knowledge.”
Savannah State graduate students will be selected for the program this summer. The program will launch in the schools in the fall.