LARAMIE – The Global Vegetation Project, launched in 2020 by the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute, recently published K-12 teaching materials on its website.
The Global Vegetation Project was developed to meet the need for more resources for teaching vegetation ecology online. The vision for this project is to curate a global database of freely accessible vegetation photos that can be used by educators around the world.
“We found that while K-12 educators were interested in using the platform, they were constrained by the demands of the curriculum,” says Matt Bisk, a UW sophomore masters student at the Biodiversity Institute who helped develop the teaching materials for the website. “These teaching materials have been developed in accordance with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and can be easily adapted by educators to use in their classrooms.”
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The developed teaching materials are based on phenomenon-based learning, where students are presented with a natural, observable phenomenon and given the task of explaining why it occurs. By explaining a specific phenomenon, students explore different scientific practices and topics. In each set of materials, the Global Vegetation Project serves to present or explain a phenomenon.
That approach is student-centered and guided by student inquiry, says Bisk, who is pursuing a degree in science education and environment and natural resources. While these materials describe a general progression for an educator to follow, the materials encourage educators to allow students to direct the direction of their learning. The materials are presented in a way that allows them to be adapted to each educator’s unique teaching style and classroom.
“We believe these materials will be relevant to educators in any setting, whether teaching with NGSS or simply looking for a new, innovative way to teach ecology topics,” says Bisk of Mount Laurel, NJ. “We hope that the Global Vegetation Project will be able to bring vegetation ecology into the classroom in a way that wasn’t accessible before.”
The Science and Math Teaching Center was also instrumental in creating the teaching materials, says Bisk.
The Global Vegetation Project’s mission is to inspire and empower people of all ages to learn more about the diversity of vegetation on Earth and to provide educators with a resource for online teaching. The goal is to bring the field into the classroom in ways previously impossible, providing visual and interactive experiences that link vegetation and climate on a global scale.
For more information about the Global Vegetation Project, visit the website at www.gveg.wyobiodiversity.org; Facebook at www.facebook.com/GlobalVegProj/; Tweet at www.twitter.com/GlobalVegProj; and Instagram at www.instagram.com/globalvegproj/.