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Teaching science with technology: Using EPA’s EnviroAtlas in the classroom
Hartley, J. AND J. Daniel. Teaching science with technology: Using EPA’s EnviroAtlas in the classroom. 2017 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Portland, OR, August 06 - 11, 2017.
Presentation at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Conference in Portland OR
Background/Question/Methods U.S. EPA’s EnviroAtlas provides a collection of web-based, interactive tools and resources for exploring ecosystem goods and services. EnviroAtlas contains two primary tools: An Interactive Map, which provides access to 300+ maps at multiple extents for the U.S., and an Eco-Health Relationship Browser, which displays evidence from hundreds of scientific publications on the linkages between ecosystems, the services they provide, and human health. EnviroAtlas is readily available, only requires an internet browser to use, and can be used by anyone with some introduction, which this session will provide. This session introduces an educational curriculum that has been designed for use with the tools in EnviroAtlas. The curriculum contains three lesson plan packages for varying grade levels: Exploring Your Watershed for 4th and 5th grades, Making Connections Between Ecosystems and Human Health for 7th-12th grades, and a lesson that encourages students to be collaborative decision-makers in a role-playing exercise that integrates ecology, public health, and city-planning in Building a Greenway Case Study for high school and undergraduate classes. All lesson plans are free and available for download. Results/Conclusions These educational activities encourage critical thinking and engage students and community users in a variety of ways, including physical engagement and technological exploration of their local environment and communities. EnviroAtlas provides users with an abundance of data, tools, map layers, and a visual collection of the scientific papers on eco-health connections that users may not otherwise have easy access to. In some cases, the use of these data in the classroom can impact real-world decision-making, as in the “Building a Greenway Case Study,” wherein students use available information to guide discussion, interaction, and decision-making in a group atmosphere. With input from the local town or city planners, this case study has the capacity to be used in a real-world context—for example, students at CSU Fresno are currently working to explore greenway routes for the City of Fresno. The application of classroom science and discovery to tangible local issues can have life-changing implications for students’ career and interest trajectories, as well as serving as a strong community-building tool in collaboration and environmental action. This abstract has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Agency.