Current Research

David Jungblut, Oakcrest High School has been invited to attend three week long instructional and research opportunities with Princeton University.

1. Sustainability – Living on the Edge -Engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards focuses on designing solutions to humans’ wants and needs. To develop successful strategies for mitigating risks of earthquakes and volcanoes it is critical to understand how humans interact with their environment. Teachers will deepen and enrich their understanding of geologic processes by exploring activities at tectonic plate boundaries, analyzing risks to human populations, and evaluating strategies to mitigate those risks. Using Google Earth, we will analyze geological process data to identify patterns and develop models. We will design solutions to keep a disaster from becoming a catastrophe.

2. Hawk Mountain, July 26-29, 2014 in Kempton, PA.

3. Light and Life in the Bay, August 2-6, 2014 in Barnegat Bay, NJ.

Program Overview

Educators will have the opportunity to participate in field-based experiments that support researchers’ understandings about the environment. This is an invaluable experience intended to be transferred to the classroom and shared with students year after year. 

Teachers will better understand the Science Practices as specified in the Next Generation Science Standards for their application in classroom instruction, curriculum and assessment:   

  • Asking questions
  • Developing and using models
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Expedition – Hawk Mountain

The cost and flexibility of food searching flights on avian scavengers

Although Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures rank as the world’s two most common and widely distributed avian scavengers, we remain largely ignorant of the costs and benefits of their food searching flights. This is unfortunate as these two avian scavengers represent species that are doing well at a time when most other vultures are in serious decline. Teachers’ research will inform questions about food searching, and provide clues for determining why many other vulture species are in decline. 

Supported by Jules Winter, Ph.D with Erin Brown and researchers at the Acopian Center for Conservation Learning. 

The research will inform the extent to which food-searching flight behavior differs between turkey and black vultures, as well as the extent to which flight behavior with each species shifts due to environmental factors.  Teachers will engage in field observations of the flight behavior of both species.  In small groups they will design questions, collect, analyze, and present preliminary data that furthers an understanding of predator/prey relationships under varied environmental situations.

Expedition – Light and Life in the Bay

Explore one of the most extensive salt marsh ecosystems on the East Coast and contribute to research about the Terrapin turtle.

Terrapins prey upon crabs and snail which are most often found underwater; are terrapins able to forage effectively when turbidity caused by boat activity reduces visibility? Teachers will develop their own questions, collect original data and complete their own analyses to help identify conservation concerns. These results will help inform our understanding of human impacts not only on terrapins, but the aquatic community as a whole in Barnegat Bay and beyond. After completion of this course, teachers will be confident in their understanding of the scientific method by experiencing first-hand the thought process that scientists implement every day. The program will include data collection, data analysis and group discussions, supported by researchers Abby Domini and Jules Winter, Ph.D.

In this field-based program teachers will capture, tag and measure terrapins, as well as collect prey items to evaluate whether visual cues used by terrapins to find prey are affected by anthropogenic activity in the bay. Most important, you will be mentored in how to observe biological patterns and how to frame research hypothesis/questions and then gather data to address those inquiries. This long-running teacher program in the US has shown that field opportunities refresh and energize teachers, inspiring them to share their first-hand experiences of the natural world with their students. They learn about environmental sustainability and gain hands-on experience in the valuable skills of scientific inquiry and observation – and their field experiences provide real-world context for teaching textbook principles.

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