Teacher brings real world experience back to classroom

Steve Park in front of the Environmental Protection Agency's research vessel, Lake Guardian.
Steve Park in front of the Environmental Protection Agency's research vessel, Lake Guardian.

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) With the start of the school year, one teacher in Huntington is bringing lessons learned from summer research into his classroom. Steve Park, a seventh grade science teacher at Riverview Middle School joined 15 other educators to collect data on Lake Erie with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists.

Steve Park, along with 15 other educators collected data alongside the EPA in July.
Steve Park, along with 15 other educators collected data alongside the EPA in July.

“The experience exceeded my expectations,” Park said. “I learned so much about scientific research and about Lake Erie that I can take directly back to my students and fellow educators. Having the opportunity to research alongside EPA and University scientists aboard a floating science lab was truly a one-in-a-lifetime experience.”

From July 7-13, teachers collected and analyzed data related to concentrations of microplastics and bacteria, as well as chemicals that are making their way into the Lake Erie watershed. The educators participated in lessons focusing on food web dynamics, endangered and invasive species, climate change, plastics pollution, water contaminants, and stewardship opportunities for students throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

“The educators really stepped up and not only helped the EPA collect meaningful data, but also acquired new scientific and pedagogical skills as well as interesting stories and ideas with which to inspire their students,” expedition organizer, Lyndsey Manzo said.

The opportunity was part of a workshop sponsored jointly by the Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL) and the U.S. EPA. The goal for the program is that educators would use this research in classroom curriculum.

Pennsylvania Sea Grant and the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, which funded the program, are a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Pennsylvania State University and Ohio State University. They are part of NOAA Sea Grant, a nationwide network of 32 similar science-based programs.

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