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Georgia science teachers study wildlife on Sapelo and Jekyll Islands

Participants in the 2017 Blue Bloods and Red Knots of Sapelo Island workshop


College of Education faculty members Heather Scott, Ed.D. and Missy Bennett, Ed.D., led 12 Georgia science teachers this summer in activities centered on the interdependence of the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab and the migratory Red Knot Shorebird on Sapelo Island.

In collaboration with geology professor Fred Rich, Ph.D., Scott and Bennett coordinated the teacher development course including a spring preview class held April 28-30 on Jekyll Island, GA and a week-long class held May 28-June 2 on Sapelo Island, GA.

“Our goal was to use native Georgia species to help teachers incorporate inquiry into their science classrooms,” explained Bennett.

During the spring preview, participating teachers caught, collected data on, and tagged horseshoe crabs. When they reconvened in the summer for their week-long course on Sapelo Island, teachers conducted inquiry investigations and additional study of the horseshoe crab and shorebirds. The workshop included beach seining (net fishing) as well as investigations of the salt marsh, beach, maritime forest and tidal creek. Teachers also visited the Coastal Resources Office of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Jekyll Island Environmental Education Center.

“While on Sapelo Island, teachers worked to develop inquiry-based science projects in the role of students,” said Scott. “They also began developing ideas for using inquiry in their classroom next year.”

In fall, participants will come together again for the Georgia Association of Marine Educators (GAME) annual conference on St. Simon’s Island, GA, where they will share their ideas for classroom inquiry.

As a final component of the grant, Bennett and Scott will support the teachers by visiting their classrooms in the coming year to observe their lessons and implementation of the inquiry-based science projects they crafted this summer.

COE Instructor Heather Scott, Ed.D. (left) and Professor Missy Bennett, Ed.D. showcase wildlife caught on Sapelo Island during their workshop.

Additional collaborators for the grant workshop include Paul Medders, fisheries biologist with the Department of Natural Resources in Brunswick, GA, and Adam Mackinnon of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve.

For the workshop, College of Education partnered with Emanuel County Schools and had four teacher participants from the county participate including Kelly Jarriel, Hayward Johnson, Gray Mendieta and Cindy Smith. Additional participants included: Brooke Bearden, Glynn Academy; Mallorie Blount, Arthur Williams Middle School; Dana Doss, Screven County High School; Greg Grimes, Ware County High School; Michael Herrin and Kimberly Holland, Chestatee High School; Kathryn Mullen, Meadowcreek High School; and Michael Riccio, Richmond Hill High School.

This workshop is funded by Georgia’s Improving Teacher Quality Higher Education Program, with Title II funds from the United States Department of Education. Funds are used to enhance the teaching of science, mathematics, language arts, reading and social studies at the elementary, middle and high school levels in public and private schools.

This is the fifth consecutive year that College of Education has received funding from the Improving Teacher Quality program for this grant, and the fifteenth year that Bennett and Scott have had Improving Teacher Quality grants funded. COE Associate Professor, Yasar Bodur, Ph.D., has served as the grant evaluator since 2015.


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