Summer institute brings new science curriculum to High School teachers

July 18, 2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A tanker truck has overturned one mile south of downtown Hydroville sending 5,000 gallons of pesticide into a roadside ditch. Emergency response teams are on the scene working to contain the spill, but there is danger of the toxic chemical entering nearby Beaver Creek and contaminating Hydroville's drinking water supply. Residents in the area south of town are advised to evacuate the area and drink bottled water until further notice.

This fictional scenario kicks off the Pesticide Spill Curriculum portion of Oregon State University's Hydroville Curriculum Project, a series of educational lesson plans developed by OSU Extension faculty that use real world scenarios to teach science, environmental health, math, social studies and language arts to high school students.

"This is an integrated curriculum that builds problem solving and communication skills within the classroom," said Molly Bloomfield, director of the Hydroville Curriculum Project. "Students are empowered to think and solve problems based on their own research. For many of the students involved this is the first time that they've encountered a problem for which there is no correct answer. The solution they develop must be based on the data collected, budget restrictions and stakeholder goals and values."

This summer, as part of the Environmental Health Sciences Center Summer Institute, OSU is hosting a four-day workshop for high school teachers to learn how to implement the Pesticide Spill Scenario in their classrooms. The Pesticide Spill curriculum is a nine-week unit that introduces students to toxicology, risk analysis and decision-making. It was developed, along with three other scenarios, as part of the larger Hydroville program by Extension faculty and scientists at OSU. It was written primarily for students in 9th and 10th grades, but can be modified for other levels.

The workshop will run from Aug. 8-11 on the OSU campus and will provide a chance for teachers to participate in hands-on learning activities, receive training in environmental health science, earn Continuing Professional Development Units or graduate credits and network with other high school teachers. Workshop participants will also receive a $400 stipend, teaching materials and access to Hydroville Project staff and OSU research scientists.

The Hydroville Curriculum Project is in its sixth year of a seven-year grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and has worked extensively with the OSU Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences Program.

For more information about the Hydroville Curriculum Project, or if you are a teacher and want to apply for the August 8-11 Pesticide Spill Curriculum Summer Institute visit the Hydroville website at http://www.hydroville.org/ or contact Sue Helback, the Hydroville Project Coordinator, at 541-737-8891.

Author: Aimee Lyn Brown
Source: Molly Bloomfield