Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Lisa Samford

    Lisa Samford

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 01:45 p.m.

    This looks like an incredibly successful project—how many students participated? How many experiences (and how long) would a typical participant have?

  • Icon for: Catherine Matthews

    Catherine Matthews

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:22 p.m.

    Several hundred rising 9th through 12th graders participated in our programs – some a week long residential program, others a month-long course that was part of a residential month-long college access program. In addition to the summer experiences, we offered at least 6 weekend field trips each academic year and all participants were invited to fill a limited number of spots for each field experience.

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 05:09 p.m.

    I enjoyed watching the video and seeing the young people so closely in touch with their environments. Do students in the residential programs ever serve as mentors to other students in subsequent programs or during public events? Have the students been involved in any active conservation or protected species projects in the State?

  • Icon for: Catherine Matthews

    Catherine Matthews

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 09:41 a.m.

    1) Absolutely, students serving as mentors (Student Research Assistants, SRAs) was one of the highlights of our program. In some summers, nearly every student applied to be an SRA so our staff had to debate how many new vs returning students we should accept. Our new students really resonated with our SRAs (who were almost always students who had embraced our guidelines as project leaders and adopted our stances with respect to inquiry oriented instruction & allowing those who had not had as many opportunities to capture live herps in their wild environments the chance to do while participating in our programs).
    2) Yes, our Museum of Natural Sciences maintains a database of herps by county (we have 100 counties in NC). In one of our counties we were missing a number of records for herps that should be there. A contingent of our students got involved in and really embraced ’the voucher project" disappointed by the a museum employee who had indicated that their county was poorly represented in the herp record for NC. A very successful experience for all involved.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Co-Principal Investigator
    May 16, 2016 | 03:25 p.m.

    Very cool. I like it that the kids are handling these fairly fragile organisms very gently— they are learning to really pay attention. Is there a way we can find out a bit more about the “public events” part of your project?
    You mention the kids’ getting interested or committed to preserving habitat – do you do much with them in different habitats around the area?

  • Icon for: Catherine Matthews

    Catherine Matthews

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:27 p.m.

    1) Our public events included “Celebrations of Local Reptiles & Amphibians” as well as The HERP Project Booth and Costumes and Puppet Shows at Science Festivals and other science/environmental education events sponsored by museums and parks and schools.

    2) Our residential programs were held in the NC Piedmont and the Inner Coastal Plain. Our follow-up field trips included the Mountains and the Coast. We explored every general ecological/geographic region of our state and the longer our programs ran, the more focused they became on habitat.

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 01:32 p.m.

    It is interesting to see your commitment to getting students outdoors and handling wildlife amidst a number of other projects that are prioritizing screen-based learning (e.g. Guppy Guppy Evolution or Zoombinins). What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages of these two approaches to broadening participation in STEM?

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    Aerin Benavides

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:43 p.m.

    The advantages can be found in the integrated nature of learning, by integrating emotion and physical aspects into our learning experiences students were engaged, excited, and we found that youth became not experts and learners, but a group of participants that all had strengths and weaknesses. We found strengths in all students were useful to successful fieldwork, and this helped youth shift towards a more positive science identity.

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 01:33 p.m.

    Also how difficult are the logistics for implementing a program like this. What lessons have you learned?

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    Aerin Benavides

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:43 p.m.

    We have learned many lessons! Greatest of all was that partnerships and collaborations between scientists, educators, graduate students, teachers and participants make the program stronger, and these partnerships take deliberate and patient negotiation, which the Herp Project took the time to do. Also, we learned that taking the extra effort to make access open to all economic groups, contacting families without internet, using teacher contacts to help us recruit participants, providing transportation, supplies and materials some families could not supply all helped to create an equitable program.

  • Icon for: Catherine Matthews

    Catherine Matthews

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 05:43 p.m.

    1) I think that both approaches (e-learning and learning in an authentic physical situation) have advantages and disadvantages. E-learning can obviously reach so many more young people. But, learning to do science is quite different from learning science content. The out-of-doors is challenging. You can’t tell how deep black water is, you slip and slide into ephemeral pools, snakes bite you if you handle them and toads and frogs urinate on you. While our students are sometimes leery at first they come to embrace and enjoy the challenges of fieldwork. When our students leave our program we feel that they know how to do science. So, the biggest disadvantage to me is that students learn about science from many e-learning experiences but in our program they learn to do science.
    2) The logistics can be daunting. We wanted a residential program but we didn’t want to teach & provide custodial care when we weren’t teaching…so we offered our programs at established “camps”. We had to transport students, we had to travel to their homes, we had to meet with them and their parents, we had to provide gear that students and their families didn’t have, we had to speak several languages or find someone who did (Spanish, sign language, Urdu, etc.). We had to work carefully with our students who had had field experiences and our students who had not spent much time at all outside. These are just some of the things we learned to do. We are still learning.

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 11:41 a.m.

    Your commitment to “do” science comes through loud and clear as you discuss all the logistics and realities of setting this up and making sure students become a part of the environment, rather than just bystanders or observers. I was wondering whether you have tried to capture what students are thinking and feeling (including their exposure to science) before, during, and after the program—through statements, pictures, and videos. Maybe some of the mentors and the participants could take on the task of doing some of the research and documentation.

  • Icon for: Rita Karl

    Rita Karl

    Managing Director of STEM Media & Education
    May 19, 2016 | 12:22 p.m.

    Thank you for your interesting and important work. I am also interested in Vivian’s question about impact on students through their words. We have been interested in having students create media about their STEM studies (creators rather than consumers of media) and also acting as role models for others.

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    Aerin Benavides

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:43 p.m.

    It was successful, not only in science knowledge gain, but in promoting increased participation in science and self-recognition of new science identities, as well as participants being recognized by us as group leaders and by their peers as able to participate in science equitably. We served about 215 high school age students over 4 years of the NSF grant directly at week-long residential herpetological research experiences (HRE’s) at month-long courses as part of a summer college prep program for first-generation college applicants, as well as at weekend follow-up days for herpetological fieldwork throughout the school year.

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    Cassandra Hartblay

    Guest
    May 20, 2016 | 01:47 p.m.

    This is what having fun while learning looks like.

  • Icon for: Erica Jablonski

    Erica Jablonski

    Graduate Research Assistant
    May 22, 2016 | 05:11 p.m.

    I love how your project interweaves personal and social growth into hands on learning about the natural environment through the scientific process.I am interested to know more about your reference to partnering with existing “camps”. Can you elaborate on the types of programs with which you collaborated and the extent to which they were academic, social, etc.? Thanks so much

  • Icon for: Catherine Matthews

    Catherine Matthews

    Presenter
    May 23, 2016 | 12:08 p.m.

    One of our residential programs is housed at a private university and is offered as a part of a broader college access program. This program is limited to students who live in the same county where the college is located. Two of our residential programs were housed in traditional church camps. It took a lot of negotiation with camp personnel to make sure that purposes for our project were clear to everyone – scientific endeavors with no religious affiliation. For our residential programs we needed facilities where custodial care was offered during times when we were not offering herpetology (after 10 PM, meal times and afternoons). This worked out great for both our programs and the church camps although it took a lot of personal contact time to make it work well. We also ran some day programs and partnered with local natural history museums and an arboretum.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

Icon for: Catherine Matthews

CATHERINE MATTHEWS

University of North Carolina Greensboro, Elon University, University of North Carolina Pembroke

Herpetology Education in Rural Places & Spaces - The HERP Project
DRL-1114558

This video describes two threads of The HERP Project: 1) our research experiences for high school students and 2) our public education events. Both threads have focused on broadening participation in the scientific enterprise by making individuals aware of the common reptiles and amphibians that share our environments and the roles that these creatures play in our human understanding of the health and value of those environments.