Franklin County High School’s Advance Placement Biology students are working on projects for Project Learning Tree, a national organization that creates science learning activities for schools.
Monday, September 9, 2013
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
Students in Franklin County High School's Advanced Placement (AP) Biology classes are helping to enhance instructional activities for Project Learning Tree (PLT), a national organization that creates science learning activities for schools.
Amy Chattin, science department chair at FCHS, along with a few of her colleagues, were contacted by PLT to participate in the field testing of several projects.
Chattin said a team of PLT researchers in Florida, who are in charge of implementing new standards for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum, contacted her about testing the activities, and Chattin was happy to accept the offer.
"This is a big deal for us," said Chattin. "Our school is located furthest north and west of the areas chosen to participate in this program revision."
Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.
Their goal is to teach students how to think about complex environmental issues.
According to the website, PLT, which has been recognized as a leader in environmental education for more than 35 years, enhances critical thinking, problem solving and effective decision-making skills.
Chattin and her students, who are college-bound sophomores, juniors and seniors, are practicing and testing the curriculum activities in an outdoor setting.
"We are trying to come up with a program for them to be involved in and learn from an applicable, hands-on part of science," said Chattin.
One project is "Carbon on the Move," which tests the length of time a carbon atom will stay in any specific environment.
"We are using games and calculations to test the movement of carbon atoms," said Chattin.
Another project currently being tested is called "Counting Carbon." Students start by measuring a tree. By using the data collected from the measurements, students estimate how many carbon atoms are in the tree, based on its size.
"We will also be working on another project this October that will test how environmental factors affect different seeds," said Chattin. "The goal is for students to learn by doing."
PLT materials are multi-disciplinary and aligned with state and national education standards.
"This program is making kids more aware of science and the careers available to them," said Chattin.
While field testing, Chattin and the students are learning what areas of the projects are working, and what areas are not working.
"We are figuring out where the projects need to be tweaked," said Chattin.
Then, their results and suggestions will be forwarded to the PLT team in Florida.
PLT's GreenWorks! grants fund these and other community environmental improvement projects. Past projects for PLT have included growing plants, restoring habitats, reducing energy use, conserving water, recycling and making better use of school grounds.
"The work that Mrs. Chattin is doing with her students will impact the curriculum of a nation-wide organization," said Kevin Bezy, associate principal at FCHS. "It is an exciting opportunity for our students and our county school system."
To learn more about Project Learning Tree, visit www.plt.org.