New, GK-12 Project in Water Resources for Middle and High Schools in Rural Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington
The goal of the University of Idaho GK-12 program is to improve graduate Fellow communication, teaching, collaboration, and teamwork skills, while increasing inquiry-based science taught in rural middle and high schools in Idaho and Washington. Graduate Fellows will be from interdisciplinary degree programs: Waters of the West - Water Resources, Environmental Science, and Environmental Engineering. The STEM theme will be water resources and the environment as a context for learning physical, Earth, and life sciences. The theme and interdisciplinary approach will raise working knowledge of water resources, one of the most compelling and complex topics facing the world today. Fellows will use their research to convey scientific concepts to students, linking the science content to local water resource issues (e.g. aquifer depletion, floods and droughts, or the inter-relationship of salmon, hydropower dams, and Indian Tribes) that are relevant to the teachers, students, and community.
The program will serve seven rural school districts, including the Lapwai (Nez Perce Tribe) district, which is 82% Native American; all schools are within river basins subjected to integrated analysis by the Waters of the West program. Five specific impacts are: (a) Fellows will effectively communicate scientific concepts in classroom and public contexts, (b) Fellows will successfully apply collaboration and teamwork skills in teaching and research (c) Fellows will demonstrate inquiry-based teaching skills, (c) STEM teachers will demonstrate increased content knowledge, mentoring skills, and confidence and competence in inquiry-based teaching, and (e) grade 7-12 students will demonstrate increased scientific knowledge, excitement, confidence and career awareness.