About 20 science teachers learned how to better educate their students about the local environment and threats to it thanks to a recent summer graduate-level course in environmental sciences at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Sponsored by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the Teaching Environmental Sciences (TES) course is designed to increase teachers' understanding of environmental concepts and principles of air, water and waste management and a clean, healthy environment.
"We have to educate our community about environmental issues, especially here in the Valley," said Dr. Amin Ibrahim, chemistry assistant professor.
"This is a hands-on experience that educates our teachers so they can carry the message back to the students, who can carry it to their parents and the community."
During the TES course July 17-31, teachers in grades K-8 acquired strategies for presenting environmental concepts to students and how to plan and develop additional hands-on activities and lessons for classroom use.
Participants received current resource materials from state and local organizations and examples of career opportunities in environmental fields for students to pursue.
Methods of instruction included field trips, activities and labs, and free literature. Expert environmental speakers from various agencies also met with teachers.
"There are many issues the teachers are not aware of, and there are things also new to me, so I'm learning just like they are," said Ibrahim, adding some participants are taking the class for credit toward the University's graduate program.
"Most people do not know the environmental issues we face," he said. "We have to think about the environment very carefully or we will not survive. This is the best way to benefit yourself, your students and the Valley community."
Besides UTPA, TES courses are being offered at 13 other Texas universities, including UT Brownsville and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.