Cross-pollination occurs between educators and researchers at workshop

Tyler Jones
August 12, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The recent Authentic Plant Pollinator Landscape Research for Educators Workshop at Penn State attracted 13 kindergarten through 12th grade educators from across Pennsylvania and beyond (one educator is currently teaching in the Spangdahlem region in Germany), and it allowed educators to work closely with members of Penn State’s College of Education's Center for Science and the Schools and Center for Pollinator Research.      

The week-long workshop was packed with information and activities related to pollinator biology, ecology and conservation. The participating educators conducted habitat assessments, evaluated the attractiveness of different flowering plants to pollinating insects, captured insects in the field and examined their pollen loads under microscopes, and worked with honeybee hives.

Teachers engaged in enthusiastic discussions of how these experiences and techniques could be used to teach a range of concepts from the elementary to high school level, including courses in biology, chemistry and physics. “These concepts are so useful to help guide understanding about our natural world,” one of the participating educators said.

at pollinator wokshop

Participants in the Authentic Plant Pollinator Landscape Research for Educators Workshop observing pollinator visitation to plants.

IMAGE: Penn State

The workshop provided an opportunity not only for educators to learn from researchers, but for researchers to learn from educators. Workshop participants helped critique and refine pollinator-themed lesson plans developed by the researchers.

“We are creating a set of resources for educators on the Center for Pollinator Research website, and it is very important for us to learn from the educators about the concepts and strategies that will be most effective in their classrooms,” said Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research.

The educators also learned from previous workshop participants. Danielle Rosensteel, who participated in the 2017 workshop and is currently an educator for the State College Area School District, discussed how she integrated pollinators into her ninth- through 12th-grade curriculum.

She was able to weave plants, pollinators and their interactions into her science classes to not only help students learn diverse biological concepts, but also to introduce them to the rigors of independent scientific research.

at pollinator wokshop

Workshop participants using microscopes to determine pollen collected from pollinators and accompanying plant.

IMAGE: Penn State

At the end of the week-long workshop, educators shared their ideas about using concepts from plant-pollinator research in their own curricula through the use of a Modeling Authentic STEM Research Model – often called MASTER -- a multi-level systems-based framework used by the Center for Science and the Schools to conceptualize classroom research projects.

“The MASTER Model supports teachers who want to design projects with multiple investigations that seek to answer a central research question while addressing numerous education standards,” said Kathy Hill, director of the Center for Science and the Schools. “The teachers will use these curricular plans to implement the plant-pollinator research projects with their students.”

Thus, the cross-pollination that started at the workshop will continue through the upcoming academic year, as K-12 students learn to study the fascinating world of pollinators.

Funding for this workshop was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to the Penn State Center for Science and the Schools and Center for Pollinator Research.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 12, 2019