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Stony Brook-Brentwood Collaboration Will Give Teachers Hands-on Professional Development Training

Students learning at Flax Pond Marine Laboratory.
Dianna Padilla and Maria Rosa from Ecology and Evolution with students at Flax Pond Marine Station, an excellent training location that will now be used for the teacher training.
Dianna Padilla and Maria Rosa from Ecology and Evolution with students at Flax Pond Marine Laboratory, an excellent training location that will now be used for the teacher training.

Stony Brook University and Brentwood Union Free School District have received a competitive New York State Education grant of $225,000 from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for the Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP). This collaboration will engage teachers in real-world professional development opportunities. Project leader Rebecca Grella, a PhD graduate from the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook, has taught at Brentwood Union Free School District (the state’s largest suburban school district) for 17 years. Grella has created a research laboratory at Brentwood High School, which is referred to locally as “Little Stony Brook.” It is here that much of the educator training will take place.

Professor Dianna K. Padilla and Associate Professor Ross Nehm from the Department of Ecology and Evolution will work with Distinguished Professor Miriam Rafailovich and Assistant Professor Taejin Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering to integrate aspects of engineering with ecology. Brentwood Middle School and High School teachers participating in the Scientist and Teachers Engaging in Professional Development with University Personnel (STEPD-UP) program will work in conjunction with Stony Brook University personnel to engage in hands-on learning about Long Island’s salt marshes and marine ecosystems, dovetailing Engineering Design standards with Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems.

Students learning at Flax Pond Marine Laboratory, run by Stony Brook's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
Students learning at Flax Pond Marine Laboratory, run by Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Teachers will apply problem-solving strategies, hands-on laboratory work, lesson-plan writing and learning techniques to provide in-service training to others. By engaging educators in scientific questions and investigations of global and local relevance with experts, STEPD-UP creates novel student-centered activities that educators can use to further students’ 21st century skills. Through face-to-face coursework, online learning, laboratory experience, field trips and collaborative group discussion, STEPD-UP will encourage the participation of novice, bilingual and veteran teachers who strive to improve their science content and pedagogical skills. Educators will be involved in active learning and data collection that can be used to develop new and novel curricula for the classroom.

Through this comprehensive professional plan, secondary science teachers participating in STEPD-UP will be encouraged to learn about new educational trends and implementation of new standards, develop confidence for themselves and for their students, and engage in meaningful collaboration of innovative ideas, skills and expertise with their peers and University professors to positively affect student outcomes.

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