Education outreach is alive, well, and moving forward at CMAST this year. CMAST now houses an outreach office of NC State’s College of Sciences, The Science House @ CMAST, headed up by Dr. Pat Curley. Their mission is to work in partnership with K-12 teachers and students to promote the use and impact of hands-on, inquiry-based learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The Science House @ CMAST provides services and programs, as well as develops partnerships with Carteret, Craven, Jones, Onslow, and Pamlico County Schools.
The presence of The Science House greatly enchances CMAST’s capability of reaching its strategic goal of increasing public information and educational outreach. The program links the research at CMAST to the needs of K-12 STEM education through teacher professional development programs, loans of laboratory equipment, the development of learning materials and programs, and facilitation of student enrichment activities and research projects.
Sixteen teachers spent two weeks this year participating in an intense summer professional development program as part of a Math and Science Partnership Grant called Coastal Connections. The Science House @ CMAST is directing this grant, which partners with public and private schools from Craven, Carteret, Jones, and Onslow County School systems to help teachers receive coastal marine science content knowledge and to increase awareness of resources that are available to them on the coast.
The two week professional development course was led by CMAST’s Dr. Vicky Thayer, who did an outstanding job of creating a course that met the needs of a diverse group of teachers ranging from elementary to high school level. The program introduced a broad spectrum of topics associated with coastal marine research.
Each day started with a field trip to a coastal research site, led by a researcher who introduced teachers to their work. Teachers visited Shackleford Banks, NC Maritime Museum, NC Aquarium, Duke Marine Lab, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, NOAA Labs, and other locations.
Most of the teachers had never visited these locations, and knew little of what resources were available to them prior to the field trips. Teachers spent the afternoons in classroom instruction and hands-on labs that helped them develop a better understanding of marine science content. Area specialists and researchers, many of whom work at CMAST, conducted these lectures and labs.
The “Coastal Connections Math and Science Partnership” grant is a three year grant, which will provide summer professional development and a year long commitment to the development of educational units that provide coastal connections to NC educational curricula.
The Science House @ CMAST has expanded its Coastal Connections program into the school year with mini-conferences in partnership with the North Carolina Science Teachers Association, the Environmental Educators of North Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association.
The mini-conferences bring coastal resources to area teachers during three Saturday morning workshops that feature hands-on programs and resource materials presented by various agencies and organizations across North Carolina.
The Coastal Connections workshops will be held at CMAST on December 13, February 28th and April 25th. Speakers include Del’s Diamonds Gem Mining, NC Aquarium, The Science House, The NC Dept of Wildlife, the Coastal Federation and others. Educators at any level are invited to attend.
The Science House @ CMAST is in its second year contract with Onslow County Schools to work in the schools as an instructional coach for math and science.
The Director is spending 20 hours each week with the school system providing teacher assistance and guidance in STEM activities. This year, Dr. Curley is working with an additional school, Sand Ridge Elementary, helping them put together a resource development team which will utilize community resources and grants to bring 21st century hands-on science and literacy into the classrooms.
The Science House @ CMAST has developed a partnership with the NC Coastal Federation to develop the Earthwise Educational Gardening Project.
The project involves developing a piece of farm property into an educational garden which will be used as a model for providing formal and informal educators with instruction on how to develop sustainable gardens.
The end results of this development will be used as outdoor classrooms and citizen science laboratories. Teachers will receive instruction on planning, designing, managing and making curriculum connections to their schoolyard gardens.
The partnership is currently in its planning and resource development phase and has scheduled their first teacher workshop in August of 2015.
CMAST’s Sea Wolves, a 4-H program for students between the ages of 13 through 18, continues to develop and is now meeting two evenings a month at CMAST. The goals of the Sea Wolves are to: (1) provide students with leadership experience, 2) increase self-confidence, and 3) learn about marine sciences. The Sea Wolves will host their first ever Teen Science Café in December.
Now serving as the Regional Director of the North Carolina Science Olympiad, Elementary Division, The Science House @ CMAST will help develop and provide support for school districts in its service area who would like to conduct elementary Science Olympiad ompetitions.
The next Science Olympiad competition for elementary schools will be at Northside High School in Jacksonville on January 31.
The Science House @ CMAST has just been funded for the CMAST Coastal Inquirers Program grant through the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund. The Coastal Inquirers Program will target low-resourced 5th grade students and provide them with a place-based environmental inquiry STEM camp the summer prior to their entry into 6th grade.
Throughout the school year, sixth-graders will be exposed to authentic STEM projects and provided with the resources to participate in STEM competitions and projects. The project will be administered through the Science House @ CMAST office.