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Release date: May 23, 2000
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or

Space Still Available For Georgia K-12 Teachers At Oxford College's Environmental Institute

WHAT: Oxford Institute for Environmental Education

WHEN: June 12-23

WHERE: Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, Ga.

COST: No charge, plus $100 stipend to accepted Georgia K-12 educators

CONTACT: For more information, or to get an application, call 770-784-8397.

Oxford College of Emory University is looking for a few good teachers, especially those who want to get even better. For the ninth consecutive year, the college is hosting the Oxford Institute for Environmental Education, a program that trains Georgia educators in hands-on laboratory and field techniques in ecology. The program is designed to boost the skills of teachers with varying levels of experience, many of whom have had limited science training in their own college backgrounds.

There still are slots available for this year's institute, and thanks to corporate and foundation grants, there is no registration fee for educators accepted to the program, plus each will receive a $100 stipend. For more information, or to get an application, interested teachers should call 770-784-8397.

"Many schools in Georgia have outdoor classrooms, but so few are being fully used by teachers and students," says Steve Baker, associate professor of biology at Oxford and director of the institute. "We get teachers with every level of experience in science and ecology, and every one of them leaves with renewed confidence and enthusiasm for teaching environmental education."

Nearly 200 Georgia educators have sacrificed their sneakers and braved the summer heat to gain or enhance their skills in using inquiry-based teaching of natural science during the eight years the institute has been in existence. "The emphasis has always been on investigative learning," says Baker. "That has become hot in education circles lately, but we've been focusing on providing those teaching skills since the beginning."

The Oxford Institute for Environmental Education is housed at the Oxhouse Science Center of Oxford College, a 47-acre ecology laboratory, which includes a small lake and 40 acres of forest, grassland and easy access to both pristine and polluted streams in the area. The educators ask questions and design plans for scientific investigations in their own school environments; teachers gain the tools to design lessons that are particularly pertinent to their students.

"Instead of just telling kids why the world's rainforests are endangered, the teachers can help their students discover on their own how streams in their own community might be endangered," says Eloise Carter, professor of biology at Oxford and instructor in the institute. "While learning about the rainforest is certainly worthwhile, knowing about their own school environment and community is so much more relevant to kids."

In addition to the two-week summer institute, the participants reconvene for a half-day session in November to relate their experiences with implementing their plans and discuss future, long-range plans for additional investigations. The institute staff also makes a concerted effort to visit each teacher's class during the school year to evaluate first-hand the success of the institute.

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