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Teachers look to nature for ideas at recent "Ship to Shore" Teacher Workshop

San Francisco Bay Area teachers delved deeper into biomimicry and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) at Marine Science Institute’s recent free teacher workshop called, “Ship to Shore – All you need to know and more!” The event was held Wednesday, March 8 from 4:30-6:30 pm.

Through the workshop, MSI showcased their school programs -- particularly focusing on how they align with NGSS. Educating teachers in the areas of incorporating NGSS and environmental education into their classroom is one of MSI’s goals. By adding an MSI program to their curriculum, teachers are able to address many of the state’s new science standards. Yearly, MSI educates more than 56,000 people (including area students) about the wonders of the San Francisco Bay.

The lack of environmental education in a teacher’s education is an “obstacle to successful implementation of EE (Environmental Education) in schools,” according to the article “Lack of Environmental Education in Teacher Training Programs” (Environmental Education. Research Bulletin, 2014, Issue 7). The article also says that “most teachers may feel a desire to incorporate environmental topics into their teaching, (but) teacher-training programs may not be adequately preparing them to do so.”

At “Ship to Shore” teachers had the opportunity to participate in two mini-workshops. The first workshop highlighted MSI’s Inland Voyage Biomimicry program for grades third and up. (Biomimicry is an approach to solving human problems by using inspiration from nature). During the program time, the teachers had the exact same hands-on experience their students would have when doing the program. The teachers examined marine animals, made observations, investigated the animals’ adaptions, and recorded their findings. The teachers then looked for ways to apply their observations and findings to solve a human problem.

During the second mini-workshop teachers participated in another biomimicry activity that focused on NGSS alignments for engineering design. The activity focused primarily on engineering design for kindergarten through second. However, the activity was appropriate to use for any grade level. During this activity, teachers learned to “see” function in natural objects by investigating, touching, smelling and making observations of natural objects all while being blindfolded. While still blindfolded the teachers speculated on the function of all the attributes they identified.

Adding to the excitement of the night, was the raffling off of three – free -- MSI programs.

Teachers sat with fingers crossed in hopes of winning a free field trip for their students. Winning teachers and the programs they won include:

-- Fumiya Kojima of Ulloa Elementary School in San Francisco won an Inland Voyage of her choice.

-- Becky Kim of Sunnyvale Middle School in Sunnyvale won an Inland Voyage of her choice.

-- Nancy Julien of Henry Ford Elementary School in Redwood City won a Marsh and Beach Exploration.

Numerous items from theater tickets and dinners to wine tastings and hair salon gifts were generously donated by area businesses and organizations for the raffle event. Teachers also enjoyed delicious appetizers and wine (from Russian Ridge Winery) or beer (from Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company) during the evening.

A special “thank you” to the donors that made the evening possible:

Broadway by the Bay

Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company

Dragon Productions

Go To Chocolates

La Honda Winery

Ladera Garden & Gifts


Palo Alto Players

Portola Kitchen

Russian Ridge Winery

Soquel Vineyards

The Wine Club


Voila Hair Design – Sheridan & Jayna (Stylists)

Whole Foods Market

2014. Lack of environmental education in teacher training programs. Environmental Education Research Bulletin. January to June 2014(7):25-27.

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