Unique workshop for teachers highlights connection between plants, pollinators

February 28, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A professional development experience for middle and high school teachers that illustrates the interaction between landscapes and pollinators will take place this summer at Penn State.

The “Authentic Plant Pollinator Landscape Research for Educators” workshop, co-hosted by the University’s colleges of Education and Agricultural Sciences, is slated for June 24-28 at the University Park campus.

“This workshop is unique because it creates a dialogue and knowledge between teachers and scientists, which, in turn, teachers can share with their students,” said Harland Patch, research scientist and lecturer in the Department of Entomology, who, along with Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology, will be among those leading the discussions. Grozinger is director of Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research.

“There are many goals of school curricula that can be addressed by studying pollinators and the plants they interact with,” Patch said. “This special, mutualistic relationship is responsible for a great portion of terrestrial diversity — think of all the species of bees and flowering plants — and for the majority of our micronutrient-rich crops like fruits and nuts.”

According to Kathy Hill, assistant professor of education and director of the Center for Sciences and the Schools in the College of Education, the workshop will allow teachers to participate and collaborate with leading researchers in the area of pollinator and plant-pollinator landscape research, Center for Sciences and the Schools’ science educators, and educators from across Pennsylvania. The teachers will learn about interdisciplinary plant-pollinator research at Penn State and will be able to take various research techniques back to their classrooms.

With support from the workshop leaders, participants will develop a research project to implement with their students in the 2019-20 academic year. The classroom project will incorporate learnings from the workshop, data collected by researchers at the Center for Pollinator Research, and plant-pollinator interaction data collected by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners.

This will be the second time the workshop has been held at Penn State, and based on feedback from previous attendees, Patch is predicting another successful week.

“The teachers really responded to the rich world of pollinators and could easily see how the lessons would fit into their educational goals,” he said. “They really enjoyed the outdoor research the workshop provided. The experience drove home the idea that all of us should be advocates for more outdoor scientific exploration, for slowing down and seeing, measuring and understanding — it is a vital part of our children's education.”  

Grozinger noted that the interactive nature of the workshop limits the number of spaces available, so organizers encourage interested teachers to register prior to March 11. Preference will be given for collaborative teams of teachers from the same school or district.

Online registration is available at https://csats.psu.edu/overview-of-csats-programs/summer-workshops/authentic-plant-pollinator-landscape-research-for-educators-appl-red-worksh.

  • Pollinator workshop at Penn State

    Participants of a pollinator workshop are shown visiting The Arboretum at Penn State.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 28, 2019