After years (yes, years!) of planning, EPI is beyond excited to announce the launch of a free, online collection of curricula we're calling the EPI Classroom. These lesson plans are aligned with the NGSS and offer teachers and students a bridge to the science and conservation work EPI already does in the field.
In this post, EPI's Curriculum and Teacher Training Supervisor Laura Dinerman reflects upon how the EPI Classroom went from an idea to a reality, and why this resource is so important to her as an educator.
EPI Classroom: Your Bridge to the Field
As a Biology and Environmental Science teacher, my goal has always been to help my students become excellent stewards of the environment. I’ve always believed that in order to love the environment and want to care for it, students must get out into the field and experience nature. My dilemma has been, “How do I create a bridge from my classroom indoors, to the world of nature and field experiences outdoors?”
It takes a lot of work to arrange field trips, but I became known as the field trip teacher at our school because my classes went into the field so frequently. Logistically, planning the trips was a challenging task, but the work paled in importance as the bus pulled away from school, and students became animated with the anticipation of experiencing completely novel environments, where they would have interactions with nature and science that would shape their perspectives and dispositions for life. Those are the moments when I could relax with the understanding that I was giving students a gift and an opportunity to fully engage with science and question their own impact on their world.
"Preparing students for deep science means building knowledge in the classroom first and then using that knowledge to amplify the learning and discovery in practice in the field."
Preparing students for field work is an important part of the process of immersion in environmental science and exploration of nature and ecology. Students who have a good background knowledge in the area of study they are meant to explore are able to think more critically, and dig deeper into science topics, resulting in a more meaningful experience. Taking students into the field well-prepared means that they can direct their own learning with their own questions, and really own the outcomes of their learning. Preparing students for deep science means building knowledge in the classroom first and then using that knowledge to amplify the learning and discovery in practice in the field.
"It is my sincere hope that the classroom-ready, free resources that you can now access on the EPI Classroom will be the bridge that helps your students get the most out of their field experiences."
As a teacher, I’ve spent time creating lessons for the classroom that specifically target the learning I expect my students to experience in the specific environment that they will explore. For Ecology Project International, I have tried to create that same bridge for educators in order to engage students lucky enough to be taken into the field by their school’s field trip teacher. It is my sincere hope that the classroom-ready, free resources that you can now access on the EPI Classroom will be the bridge that helps your students get the most out of their field experiences. I also hope that these resources can engage students in science during the times when we can't take students outside, but still want to create meaningful learning about nature for our students.
"I hope the lessons you’ll find in the EPI Classroom will help. Check them out and let me know what you think—I’d love to hear from you."
Students never forget the field trip teacher. The experiences they have in nature stick with them always. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be the person that gives students the gift of nature and helps them develop a deep love of science. I hope the lessons you’ll find in the EPI Classroom will help. Check them out and let me know what you think—I’d love to hear from you. And never be afraid to be that teacher who takes the students outside. We all know where meaningful learning happens; some of us are just willing to work a little harder to get there.
If you're an educator who would like to provide feedback about the EPI Classroom, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.