Faculty Application Cost Itinerary Outline Requirements Description Overview Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Penn State Lehigh Valley

CHANCE (Connecting Humans And Nature through
C
onservation Experiences) is both an educational outreach and professional development program that was initiated in 2004 at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Its overarching goal is to educate Penn State University undergraduate and graduate students and our nation's K-12 in-service and pre-service science teachers (and their students) in conservation biology and global environmental sustainability. Through international field courses and on-line curricular tools, participants engage in inquiry-based research opportunities and conservation efforts that allow them to better understand and act upon some of the world's most urgent global environmental issues. Participants also gain the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed for a more sophisticated comprehension of the causes, connections, and consequences of global environmental destruction.

The 2012 CHANCE courses, Biology 297E/497B - Global Climate Change: Sustainability of Select Tropical and Aquatic Ecosystems and Biology 297A/497A - A Field Practicum in Panama will work to immerse its teacher participants in experiences that will prepare them to promote environmental literacy and scientific inquiry on the topic of global climate change in their own classrooms. These two courses (the first online and the second in the field) are not just for teachers, however, as several Penn State undergraduate and graduate students majoring in various other disciplines will also be selected to participate in this program; and, Panamanian K-12 teachers will be joining the CHANCE participants for a two-day professional development workshop on the use of inquiry in the science classroom which will be held at the Smithsonian headquarters in Panama City.

For interested K-12 in-service teachers (solicited from throughout the US and the world):

The environmental education community recently identified climate change as both an opportunity and a challenge for the future (Marcinkowski, 2010). Educators need to find ways to use environmental education as an integrating concept (Saylan and Blumstein, 2011). In particular, in K-12 classrooms it is rare to see the environment included in science and social studies curriculum outside of the annual Earth Day festivities. This Penn State accredited program will help pre-service teachers earn undergraduate credits and in-service teachers earn graduate credits or professional development hours in biology that will prepare them to meet these challenges. The field practicum will provide teachers with real-world research and conservation experiences – that are chaperoned by field-based scientists – which focus on the effects of global climate change on ecosystem biodiversity and dynamics. As participants progress through the program they will also learn how to apply their research experiences to inquiry-based lesson planning and receive on-going support to assist them in translating field experiences to research and stewardship in their own schoolyards and/or community environments.

For interested Penn State graduate and undergraduate students:

Climate change is a global problem that, through scientific research, is known to be affecting people and the environment. Most of the warming in recent decades is very likely the result of human activities (IPCC, 2007). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) State of the Climate Report and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Surface Temperature Analysis indicate the average temperature of the Earth's surface has increased by about 1.2 to 1.4ºF since 1900. Other aspects of the climate are also changing such as precipitation patterns and storminess.

SmithsonianAs for our world's biodiversity, the IPCC (IPCC, 2007) has noted,

During the course of this century the resilience of many ecosystems (their ability to adapt naturally) is likely to be exceeded by an unprecedented combination of change in climate and in other global change drivers (especially land use change and overexploitation), if greenhouse gas emissions and other changes continue at or above current rates. By 2100 ecosystems will be exposed to atmospheric CO2 levels substantially higher than in the past 650,000 years, and global temperatures at least among the highest as those experienced in the past 740,000 years. This will alter the structure, reduce biodiversity and perturb functioning of most ecosystems, and compromise the services they currently provide.

This Penn State program will help undergraduate and graduate students earn credits and hours in biology that will prepare them to better understand the above challenges. The field practicum will provide real-world research and conservation experiences – that are chaperoned by field-based scientists – which focus on the effects of global climate change on ecosystem biodiversity and dynamics. As participants progress through the program they will also learn how greater energy efficiency, new technologies, and sustainable development hold promise for reducing greenhouse gases and solving these global challenges.

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