In order to get and keep children’s attention, teachers are looking to interactive lessons. The Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, Miss., hosted a science-based workshop July 18 where 22 teachers from across coastal Mississippi and Louisiana came to learn hands-on activities that get students actively involved in and out of the classroom.
The workshop consisted of eight different learning sessions for the teachers. The topics covered everything from wildlife conservation practices and forest management to coastal ecology and watershed education.
“This workshop educates teachers about many environmental issues that are affecting Gulf Coast residents and the plants and animals living in our upland and aquatic habitats,” said Chris Boyd, a Mississippi State University extension professor and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium coastal ecologist. “The teachers can teach their kids why these plant and wildlife species are important, as well as discuss the need to preserve our remaining natural resources.”
Most of the activities get students out of their seats and make them participate. They allow students to go outside to learn how plants survive the seasonal weather. Students also get to run around the classroom to learn what animals need to survive: water, food, shelter and space.
Interactive lessons are a fun way for students to learn and be active at the same time, according to Sue Nicholson, a gifted education teacher at St. Martin Elementary School in Jackson County. She hopes the children will think about what kind of environmental footprint they will leave behind.
“I want to take science outside of the classroom; I want to get the kids outside and involved in their environment,” Nicholson said.
Elementary and middle school teachers attended the training in hopes that they would receive something new to take back to the classroom. Games that teach children about protecting the environment are just some of the fun activities they can use with their students.
Children may think that one person cannot change anything, but it starts with one, said Sheila Miller, a sixth-grade teacher at Lucedale Intermediate School.
“The students need to realize their lives are important and what they do impacts the environment,” Miller said. “Even though they are just students they can make a difference in the world.”
The workshop was funded through the MSU Extension 4-H Program by a Toyota 4 H20 grant.
*Mindy Phillips is a student at The University of Southern Mississippi and an MASGC writer intern.*