Aquarium gives teachers freshwater science instruction

Posted 7/16/17

Chattanooga — When it comes to understanding the importance of preserving a river or stream ecosystem, nothing beats getting your hands dirty and your boots wet. Except perhaps having a biologist …

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Aquarium gives teachers freshwater science instruction

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Chattanooga — When it comes to understanding the importance of preserving a river or stream ecosystem, nothing beats getting your hands dirty and your boots wet. Except perhaps having a biologist studying alongside you and making a compelling case for its protection.

During the inaugural River Teachers workshop, more than a dozen educators discovered ways to incorporate freshwater science and conservation education into their curriculums. Their packed schedule of activities included lesson plan development, professional certification and plenty of hands-on field work alongside scientists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute.

River Teachers began Monday and ran through Friday.

Fifteen educators from schools across Bradley, Hamilton and Whitfield counties signed up for the program. During the five-day workshop, they snorkeled in the Conasauga River, learned about water quality monitoring in Chickamauga Creek, evaluated fish populations in the Hiwassee River and discovered ways to bridge art and nature in the classroom during an activity with a local artist.

“We wanted to show them where they can take field trips but also things they can do in their own school yards and neighborhoods so they have a variety of options to take back to their students,” said Hayley Wise, the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute’s watershed educator.

Through River Teachers, participating educators receive certification, lesson plans and course materials from Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, a regional citizen science water quality monitoring program, and Project WET, a national organization focused on promoting “action-oriented water education.”

“When the Conservation Institute’s new freshwater science center opened last fall on the banks of the Tennessee River, one of our primary goals was to showcase how incredible the rivers and streams of the Southeastern United States are,” said Dr. Anna George, the aquarium’s vice president of conservation science and education.

“During River Teachers, we use these beautiful habitats right here in our backyard to help teachers make complex science topics and conservation challenges more relatable for their students.

“Our regional students not only gain experience in thinking like scientists, they’ll also have the tools they need to help us protect the water that provides a high quality of life for all of us.”

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