By partnering with Western Kentucky University Education Department (WKU), Mammoth Cave National Park received a National Park Foundation grant to initiate the largest inquiry-based outdoor learning...
The primary goal of the PARK Teachers Program is to create partnerships between National Park Service education staff and science methods faculty from local universities. Each park/university partner team designs a science module for pre-service teachers, selecting key content based on the park’s natural resources which are uniquely suited to teaching that subject. The modules focus on inquiry- and place-based learning strategies, and help the pre-service teachers build confidence in content knowledge and teaching skills in science.
The most impressive feature of the program is the modeling of inquiry-based learning techniques. Participants realize the importance of letting students figure things out for themselves instead of being taught the "right answer". The program allowed teachers to engage in their own discovery experience, thereby increasing the probability that they will incorporate this teaching strategy with future students.
Through this program the NPF strives to arm thousands of teachers nationwide with an understanding of the relevance of national parks as living classrooms.
PARK TEACHER PARKS
Everglades National Park & Miami Dade College, Florida
Project Focus: How does scientific evidence inform decisions about habitat conservation?
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park & University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii
Project Focus: What allows life to thrive in Hawaii?
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area & Gonzaga University, Pacific Education Institute and Washington University, Washington
Project Focus: How do relationships among components of an ecosystem in a watershed affect water quality?
Mammoth Cave National Park & Western Kentucky University, Kentucky
Project Focus: What is the above ground – below ground connection?
As the program evolves, the National Park Foundation strives to impact teacher education programs across the country, targeting universities that focus on underserved audiences, forming strong national alliances with education partners, and applying the model to high school teachers — ultimately arming thousands of teachers nationwide with an understanding of the relevance of national parks as living classrooms.
The program is made possible through the generous support of the Toyota U.S.A. Foundation.