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Extension > Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education > Archives > October 2011 Archives

October 2011 Archives

Members of the Environmental Science Team extend a warm welcome to Darren Lochner, Minnesota Master Naturalist Program Coordinator. Darren has recently joined a statewide team of regional and campus-based individuals focused on the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program, which is a joint endeavor of the University of Minnesota Extension and the State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Darren will be working closely with a team from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Extension to develop a new program under the Minnesota Master Naturalist umbrella: Master Naturalist Explorers. This new program will pair current adult Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers with staff in existing after-school programs to offer fun, outdoor, science-based educational opportunities for 4th and 5th graders to learn about the ecology and natural history of their schoolyard, neighborhood, nearby natural areas, and the entire state.

Master Naturalist Explorers will address the problem that children are spending increasingly less time outside and, consequently, know less about their environment and world. It responds to the needs identified in Minnesota's 2009 Outdoor Education Legislative Report to increase outdoor learning opportunities for children and to train educators who are often uncomfortable taking youth outside for lessons. It also addresses outcomes outlined in the Minnesota Greenprint to provide increased environmental education opportunities for youth both at school and during play.

The goals of the project are 1) to create a series of outdoor, sequential, earth and life science-based lessons with targeted learning outcomes that address the new MN K-12 Science Standards, 2) to prepare adult volunteers to deliver these lessons in after-school programs for 4th and 5th graders with the aim of improving their performance on the 5th grade Science MCA exams and 3) to establish a permanent program to offer these lessons throughout Minnesota. The weekly lessons will focus on the physical changes in the seasons and their effects on plant and animal life i.e. phenology. These lessons will be divided into three units linked to The Minnesota Weatherguide, a natural history calendar.

Email Darren Lochner to learn more about Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers. Visit www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org to learn more about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

The National Academies Press has released the new Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. The publication outlines a set of expectations for students in K-12 that will ultimately inform a new series of standards for K-12 science education, and updates to school curricula and resources.

You can access the new publication online and in pdf at http://goo.gl/qLONs.

IMAG0164.jpgDriven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry Through Citizen Science is a National Science Foundation funded program that involves middle school youth in asking scientific questions, designing and conducting their own research, and improving their understanding of science through participation in citizen science.

Project team members from Environmental Science Education and Youth Development hosted the 2011 Annual Research Summit last weekend. On the first evening of the event, participants enjoyed new science activities with their fellow youth, leaders, and professional University of Minnesota Scientists. They chose from exploring the outdoors on a night hike, dissecting owl pellets, hanging camera traps, designing/testing roller-coaster-like tracks for ball bearings. You can learn more and watch a short video at http://goo.gl/0iYyh.

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On day 2, participant youth had a chance to present poster summaries of their summer inquiry projects for a group of scientists, their adult leaders, and other natural resource volunteers. Youth worked closely with members of their research teams and professional scientists to plan and conduct their investigations over the summer. Individuals or teams of youth then spent the last few weeks creating their displays. In groups of four or five, they took turns at the Summit describing their study questions, methods, results and conclusions for young colleagues and professional judges. Akin to professional conferences, youth asked questions of each other, shared ideas, and compliments.

Some young participants described advantageous studies in their poster presentations. In his research project, for instance, one boy sampled more Monarch butterflies for a common disease than any other location in MN, but the University of Minnesota. One young girl counted color bands in each millimeter of length for many Monarch caterpillars as part of her study.

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For many youth, this presentation was a practice run for their science fair or similar project later in the year. Some 4-H participants displayed their posters at a county fair. Most of these posters and presentations were well-crafted, polished, and practice.

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Congratulations to the young research team participants on completing and presenting some compelling scientific research. Visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/citizenscience/ to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry Through Citizen Science.

Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry Through Citizen Science is a National Science Foundation funded program that involves middle school youth in asking scientific questions, designing and conducting their own research, and improving their understanding of science through participation in citizen science.

Today, the 2011 Annual Research Summit started with loads of science fun for participant youth. At the end of the research season, we invite all participating youth and their adult leaders to an overnight summit. On the first evening, they learn, teach and enjoy new science activities with their fellow youth, leaders, and professional University of Minnesota Scientists. Youth can choose from exploring the outdoors on a night hike, dissecting owl pellets, hanging camera traps, designing/testing roller-coaster-like tracks for ball bearings. Throughout the evening, activities engage youth in conversing and growing comfortable, collegial with science professionals and unfamiliar youth.

On day 2, the participant youth will dine with scientists, and explore the outdoors in more depth. They will also have a chance to present poster summaries of their summer inquiry projects for a group of scientists, their adult leaders and other natural resource volunteers. For many of these youth, this presentation is a practice run for their science fair or similar project later in the year.

Click below to watch a short video of the first evening at the Summit. Visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/citizenscience/ to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry Through Citizen Science.

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Minnesota Master Naturalist Program Wins Award for Curriculum

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Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngCongratulations to members of the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program team. Their Big Woods, Big Rivers: An Introduction to the Natural History of Minnesota's Deciduous Forest received the 2001 Excellence in Educational Materials Award from the Minnesota Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.

You can learn more about the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program at http://www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org/.

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