My summer internship project was to develop and lead a place- and inquiry-based Environmental Science 101/102 course for high school students participating in Upward Bound. The course lasted two weeks and covered topics such as environmental worldviews, water quality, natural resources, and food systems. These daily themes were studied using a combination of readings, discussions, hands-on field experiences, documentaries, and meetings with stakeholders. The program culminated in a student-driven inquiry project that challenged participants to study a local socio-ecological issue and develop a solution to address the problem over the course of two days. On the final day of the course the students presented their research and proposed solutions, some of which will be presented to the city of McCall for consideration while others are being adopted for use by the McCall Outdoor Science School.

Students test soil type during a biodiversity lab in Payette National Forest

Students test soil type during a biodiversity lab in Payette National Forest

            Putting together an intensive two-week curriculum at the college level was an excellent test of the skills I have gained throughout my year at MOSS, allowing me to synthesize my coursework with the experiences I gained through the teaching practicum. Many of the field labs I developed for my students were inspired by labs that were part of my own coursework over the last year. Similarly, the final project for the course was developed as a scaled-down version of the socio-ecological projects that our cohort worked on for Integrated Seminar. My experience in developing detailed lesson plans in line with the Next Generation Science Standards for the teaching practicum prepared me for creating a curriculum that needed to meet the goals of both the Environmental Science department at the University of Idaho as well as the goals of the Upward Bound STEM Access program. Finally, the teaching practicum and graduate courses alike helped me to understand how college level learning can take place through the facilitation of place- and inquiry-based experiences, which became the foundation for this internship project.

Jeff Bragg speaks with students about growing organic potatoes in McCall, Idaho

Jeff Bragg speaks with students about growing organic potatoes in McCall, Idaho

         Creating place- and inquiry-based curriculum at the college level and working with high school students have been hugely impactful learning opportunities for me this summer. My previous education experience has largely been with middle school age students and younger, and being able to expand that experience with my internship will likely prove essential as I move into a job that will require me to develop and facilitate educational programs for a wide range of ages. This internship project has been both more challenging and rewarding than I had anticipated and the overall experience has left me interested in pursuing work with high school and college age students in the future. Being able to facilitate a course that allowed my students to connect with STEM fields and drive their own learning was a powerful experience, and their feedback that the class was both engaging and thought-provoking has brought me more fulfillment than any grade or feedback I have received in my education thus far.

 

To see my final report on my internship project, visit:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VNb0krB_mPmFakeBdMRrGOs4F5pLULZC/view?usp=sharing