Hands-on with Nature
Teachers attend science camp

OXFORD - Kids aren't the only ones who get to have fun at camp this summer. A select number of grade- school teachers from Georgia and Florida are attending a summer camp of sorts at Oxford College this month.

Nineteen teachers from elementary, middle and high schools in Georgia and Florida, including one from Eastside High School in Covington, are participating in the annual summer Oxford Institute for Environmental Education until the end of this week.

For two weeks, the teachers have participated in workshops, scientific investigations, discussions and other activities at the college's Oxhouse Estate and at various locations in and around Newton County.

"It's a workshop to help teachers learn how to use inquiry-based learning ... using school yards and local areas," said Steve Baker, a biology professor at Oxford College who helped co-lead this year's program.

The teachers surveyed the college pond, conducted tree identifications, participated in leaf pressing and had an ant investigation, among other activities.

"Our hope is that they will be able to go back to their schools and design investigations that will be appropriate for their own schools," Baker said.

For some teachers at the institute, this means having their students conduct research around city areas, and for others this means having them work in places with a variety of environments, like Newton County.

Calvin Pullen, a science teacher at Eastside High School, said he plans to use what he learned at the institute with his 10th-grade physical science and 12th-grade environmental science classes - and it also can be used to help in the areas of literature and math with the writing and percentages they used during the activities.

"Giving them book work at that age is hard to get them motivated to learn, so we started using the outside classroom," he said. "It gets them excited. By going outside and talking about leaves and different organisms, it's a lot more engaging when I can show them something and they bring data back to me."

In the spring, teachers interested in applying can get more information and learn more about the program on Oxford's Web site, www.oiee.oxford.emory.edu. More information also is available by calling 770-784-4739.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.