Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Expanding Water Resource Knowledge: The CI-WATER Summer Institute for Teachers

Teachers from Wyoming and Utah start a game of Hydropoly
 “Did you just give us the five minute warning?”
The incredulity in Nick Kiriazis’ voice is likely to be repeated by students this year as CI-WATER concepts and toolboxes are brought to Wyoming and Utah schools. As teachers from the two states, including Nick, discovered during the CI-WATER Water Resources Modeling Summer Institute, water science is a blast, especially with the resources CI-WATER has curated. From June 24th-28th, eleven teachers from Utah and Wyoming gathered in Salt Lake City, UT to learn about CI-WATER and develop curricula to bring back to their classrooms.
“I learned so many new things about using models,” says Bonnie Bourgeous, a 9th grade teacher at North Layton Jr. High in Layton UT. “I teach both science and math, and have many students for both subjects. It is great when you can make clear connections between content areas and involve students in real world projects. The use of models in predicting future events was especially informative and useful.”
The week started out with expert talks by CI-WATER researchers and the exploration of the CI-WATER toolboxes. After these informative sessions, teachers generated lists of key concepts, which were displayed in the classroom. These sticky-notes of ideas became the basis for developing new curricula.

A Utah science teacher studies hydrophobic sand
“During the last three days of the workshop the teachers collaborated in small groups to develop ideas for curricula that address important concepts for students from the CI-Water expert talks,” says Molly, the coordinator for the institute. “The groups generated excellent ides for interactive online and multimedia activities and paper-based lessons that explore the limitations and capabilities of water modeling, the complexity of the water cycle, and uses of models in the decision-making process.”
All eleven teachers came from different schools and different teaching environments. Some work in more urban schools while others work in very rural settings, necessitating a flexible set of curricula. The teachers were up for the challenge.
This was a very mindful and creative group who clearly considered what would engage students and best convey important concepts about models and water decision-making in the inter-mountain west,” says Molly.
This workshop not only provided teachers with a chance for professional development, but also helped to emphasize the importance of engaging today’s students in science. Teachers and CI-WATER researchers agree that the future of water in the west is dependent not only on today’s research, but more so on tomorrow’s scientists.
By Kali S. McCrackin
Photos by Kali S. McCrackin

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