New Science Education Program Brings Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Classrooms

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont have been selected to participate in a new science education program, Citizen Science 2.0 in National Parks. Made possible thanks to a $1 million Veverka Family Foundation donation to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, this new program supports collaborations among select national parks, local environmental science education providers, and local middle and high schools over a three-year period.

Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will partner with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and local schools to provide citizen science engagement for students and deliver professional development for teachers. This new teacher education program, Citizen Science 2.0: Equipping Educators to Inspire Future Environmental Stewards, will consist of a series of residential workshops at Tremont Institute and consults at local schoolyards to give teachers practice with experiential teaching and linking what they have learned to standards-based subject matter.

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park values the research conducted through citizen science,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “These science-based opportunities cultivate lasting connections between the public and their parks by establishing a fascination and love of science. We are thrilled to work with the National Park Foundation and the Veverka Family Foundation to implement this citizen-science based education project.”

The goal of the program this year is to:

  • Establish a place-based, science-focused community of practice among national parks, schools, and education partners.
  • Equip classroom teachers with the tools, training, and opportunity to conduct high quality, experiential science education aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.
  • Create student-centered curriculum that connects students to their local national park through hands-on scientific study of water quality and watersheds.

“We are truly excited to work with the National Park Foundation, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and our local East Tennessee teachers,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones, President and CEO of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. “This partnership will allow us to innovate teacher education programs that bring citizen science to school yards as a powerful tool to engage students in meaningful research. We are thankful for the National Park Foundation’s vision in expanding the role of parks-based science education.”

In addition to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this program is also kicking off this 2017-2018 school year at Cabrillo National Monument, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Rock Creek Park. The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will continue to identify additional park locations, schools, and education partners across the country to participate in this initiative. You can read the program’s national press release here.

“Private support from generous partners like the Veverka Family Foundation is making it possible for national parks – some of our richest learning environments – to offer new and innovative education programs like Citizen Science 2.0,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Thanks to this $1 million donation to our Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, teachers and students across the country will experience science outside the textbook and inside national parks.”

To date, the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of America’s treasured places for the next hundred years, has raised more than $420 million.

For more information regarding Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont’s Citizen Science please visit http://gsmit.org/citizen-science/.

 

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