Energizing Science Teachers

With the official start of school just days away, about a dozen science teachers from public and private schools in central New Jersey came to The Watershed Institute this week for five days of training, including field trips and site assessments, to help them align their curricula with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The middle and high school teachers hailed from Ewing, Lawrence, Montgomery, Newcastle and Trenton school districts, as well as from the independent Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart.

The teachers learned about the impacts of human activities on the water cycle, delving into both problems and solutions, from Steve Tuorto, Ph.D., the Watershed’s director of science, and Jeff Hoagland, the Watershed’s education director.

The teachers toured the rain garden, rain water harvesting system and other “green” features of the LEED-Platinum Watershed Center. Later, they hiked to the Stony Brook to take field measurements of macroinvertebrates and water chemistry.

On a local field trip, the teachers visited various sites in Hopewell Borough to assess and calculate stormwater runoff. Later, they returned to the Watershed Center to devise some green infrastructure solutions.

Various discussions throughout the training focused on how to link these concepts to NGSS, an approach to teaching science that focuses on engaging students in studying real-world problems and designing practical solutions.

The teachers used some lesson plans created last year by Greg Hunter, the Watershed’s teacher-in-residence, and modified the curricula for use in their classrooms this year.

The Watershed Teacher Academy is a research-based partnership with Princeton University built to provide invaluable experience for educators teaching kindergarten through high school.