WR! Workshops help teachers dive in on ag, environmental issues

By astaudt

Have you ever thought you’d like to learn more about water, soil, pollinators, climate change, and other ecological issues … if only you had the time?

Have you ever wanted to incorporate more hands-on, interactive activities and games in your classroom … if only you had the money for supplies?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the resources online? If only there were a simpler way to sort through all of them … and how do you know if they are reputable or not?

Formula

The formula is clear! The Water Rocks! Summit is a one-of-a-kind, FREE professional development workshop for teachers like you. This is your year to dive in and beef up your own personal understanding of water, soil, and other natural resources issues here in the state of Iowa and beyond, as well as exploring a ton of highly interactive, hands-on games and activities to teach these concepts in your classroom.

Teacher Testimonial Summit01Two Water Rocks! Summits will be offered at Iowa State University this summer: June 14-15 and June 21-22, 2017. These professional development workshops are geared towards 3rd-12th grade classroom teachers across the state of Iowa – we have something for everyone! Teachers are asked to apply in teams of 2-4 teachers from their school district, and interdisciplinary/cross-age teams are highly encouraged. How about a 4th grade teacher and an elementary music teacher? Or a middle school science teacher and middle school language arts teacher? The possibilities are endless.

Dscn1071In addition to the teacher team, schools also have the option of bringing along 2-4 high school students to be trained as peer mentors. Consider the leadership and service opportunities for high school students to go into elementary and/or middle school classrooms and lead engaging, interactive hands-on activities that get the younger students excited about the environment around them!

The Summits offer a unique, hybrid approach in which attendees learn the science of water quality, climate change, etc. from the experts -- Iowa State University faculty and staff that are working in these fields. The Water Rocks! team then turns around and shares their highly engaging + interactive original games, lessons, activities, and songs that have been developed to help teach these concepts in the classroom.

Teacher Testimonial Summit02Consider the complex topic of water quality in Iowa. Dr. Matt Helmers, Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, kicks things off by providing an overview of water quality issues in Iowa, helping participants dig in to soil erosion, nutrient transport, agricultural and urban contributions to water quality, and conservation land management practices that can facilitate improved water quality. Attendees then get to become the students as the high energy Water Rocks! team leads the interactive “We All Live in a Watershed” game, in which participants get to see first hand how each of our actions can impact water quality as water moves across and through the land. Mix in a couple music videos, the Environmentally Conscious Robot, and an optional field tour of conservation practices, and that’s quite a recipe for getting everyone engaged in thinking about and talking about water issues!

Accepted school teams are invited to attend the Water Rocks! Summit at no charge. Upon completion of course requirements, an honorarium payment is presented (which can help cover travel expenses like mileage and lodging), PLUS the Summits are eligible for one license renewal credit, as well.

Teacher Testimonial Summit03Further, each accepted school team goes home with a Water Rocks! activity kit worth over $800, containing all of the student-tested, ready-to-use, hands-on games, lessons, and activities which the teachers were trained on during the Summit. All of these games, lessons, and activities are aligned with applicable standards in the Iowa Core and Next Generation Science Standards for ready integration into the classroom curriculum!

Are you ready to apply for the Water Rocks! Summit? Gather your team of 2-4 teachers, and carefully consider your responses to the application questions. The application process is competitive, so be thoughtful and thorough in explaining why you’d like to attend and how you plan to utilize the materials in your home school district. Applications are open now through February 24, 2017. Get ready to dive in this summer with Water Rocks!

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