Summary of the First Life Sciences for a Global Community Summit

Several members of the Washington University in St. Louis, Science Outreach, LSGC Cohort One met in New Haven, Missouri the weekend of May 21, 2010 to brainstorm ideas surrounding three themes: educational globalization, equity in education, and teacher mentoring and retention. The following ideas emerged -

Teacher Mentoring and Retention

  • Develop an LSGC mentorship program that would:

  1. include mentoring opportunities at the building and district level, (agreed upon as the ideal model). (It is always preferable to have immediate help when a moment of crisis arises.)
  2. develop a national network of volunteer teacher mentors that will have “office hours” on Skype to counsel; in the spirit of Teacher Hotline.
  3. include a method to advertise the mentor program.
  4. encourage the two-way communication of ideas: sharing of wisdom from experienced Master Teachers, and the wisdom of recent graduates. For example, digital immigrants need help with the incorporation of technology, as well as updates in content and methodologies that recent participants in teacher preparation programs may possess. And, newly emerging educators would benefit from valuable experience in the navigation of various areas of education from veteran teachers.

  • Develop a model of professional development for educators that includes a more holistic approach than currently available at PD programs. The model would include a conference overview of sessions with presenters assembled in a common room, (akin to a vendor floor) where attendees might spend a few minutes asking questions about upcoming sessions to facilitate their session choices. This will alleviate disappointment and wasting of precious time, by allowing them to find sessions with the greatest relevance to their own practices. Conferences would also include time built-in the conference schedule for participants to reflect on session materials or information, and develop lessons for implementation into the classroom. Professional development would have a, “Mind, Spirit, Body” approach to increase not just the deepening of content, but would also posses a component of personal rejuvenation, peer support, and collaboration.


Educational Equity

Several strategies emerged to address inequity across districts, states, and nations-

  • Make available a variety of curricular lessons (emphasizing Institute coursework), available so that teachers can hopefully find lessons that fit their available resources, and delivery media.

  • Develop a page of links that educators find valuable in their classes and that they can add to.

  • Develop a lending library of testing kits, and activities for teachers that do not have resources of their own.
A beginning dream-list of equipment:
Incubator, electrophoresis equipment, microscope camera, big tape measures, Swift M3 microscopes for travel, electronic balance, multi-meters, power supplies, microscope slides, consumables such as micro-pipettes, and appropriate users manuals. (Replacement cost or membership fee would need to be determined.)


Globalization

Educators will begin to develop international collaborative projects based on a variety of globally relevant topics, for example; agriculture, water quality, and alternative energy.

  • Develop through Washington University in St. Louis Science Education Outreach the ability to receive and analyze water, soil, and tissue samples from student collection sites for the presence of mercury and lead with the data to be recorded initially in Googledocs, and later on a more secure site to save and archive data. The purpose is to create an inclusion model providing authentic science and research experience for all.

  • Develop summer curricula for St. Louis area schools based on the Case Studies of all three LSGC cohorts.

  • Create a repository of sample student work.

  • School garden project:
Our goal is to design and build a school garden in order to meet a variety of curricular goals for science classes. Ideas include: growing a variety of test plots with varying types and quantities of fertilizers or seed types, soil testing and amendments, connecting with other school gardens across the globe to share challenges and brainstorm solutions, connecting our garden to global food issues.

Steps:
  1. develop learning goals
  2. research how to site a garden- length of day, angle of sun
  3. determine where to locate garden and obtain permission
  4. determine soil type-use in place or bring in from the outside
  5. decide on crops to meet learning goals, planting season, and school schedule
  6. design the beds and come up with a budget for supplies
  7. determine resources and labs for students e.g., Dirt, the movie
  8. apply to WUSTL for funding
  9. build garden beds and video tape the process
  10. begin gardening curriculum

Learning goals for a school garden:
Biogeochemical cycles
11. Water
12. Carbon
13. Phosphorus
14. Nitrogen
Soils
1) Nutrients-P, K, N, trace
2) Contaminants: heavy metals
3) Porosity, permeability, water retention
4) particle size and parent material
5) cover cropping, change over time, till vs. no-till, burning
Social context
  1. different forms of agriculture-advantages and disadvantages
  2. subsistence, industrial
  3. GM, organic, poly vs. mono culture
  4. food miles-footprint
  5. % of available land-arable land globally
  6. climate-biomes-rainfall, day length, growing season
  7. farming fossil fuels-fertilizers, combines, transport to store
  8. food vs. fuel
  9. seed saving
  10. outreach- plant a row for the hungry
Processes
  1. Food chain-pest cycles
  2. Photosynthesis
  3. Respiration
  4. Decomposition
Skills
  1. record keeping-watering-often, how much
  2. communication-written, video-oral
  3. observation-plant growth, disease, pests
Human health
  1. nutrients
  2. healthy food


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