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Eastern N.C. science teachers do research at ECU

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Apr. 22, 2009)   —   Ten elementary and middle-grades science teachers from eastern North Carolina will perform research in a field experiment at East Carolina University April 24 and 25.

As participants in the “Big Ideas in Science” project, the teachers will conduct ecological and genetic research with the help of ECU scientists.

On April 24, from 12:45 p.m. to 4 p.m., the group will work at a field site at the ECU West Research campus, a former Voice of America site located a few miles northwest of Greenville. On April 25, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the group will do lab work in Room S413 of the Howell Science Building on campus.

The teachers will investigate whether mowing and disturbance treatments affect the community of bacteria in soils. Using classic microbiology techniques and DNA sequencing, the teachers will begin to identify the bacteria present and whether they differ with fertilizer and mowing treatments.

Carol Goodwillie, an ECU biologist, established the two-acre field experiment at the West Research campus in 2002 in collaboration with Lisa Clough and David Knowles and with funding from the National Science Foundation. “The work these teachers do this spring and summer will set the stage for more studies of soil ecology at the experiment by our undergraduate researchers,” Goodwillie said.

Teachers in the “Big Ideas in Science” program have spent more than 160 hours over the last two years learning new science content, refining their instructional skills and developing expertise in leadership. The goal of the program is to improve science teaching in eastern North Carolina.

The teachers have been able to translate their field experiences into classroom activities.
Georgette Rush, a fourth grade teacher from Fred Anderson Elementary School in Pamlico County, said, “Our field experiences were so exciting to me. I now engage my students in school yard field trips, and they now love science as much as I do!”

The program continues June 22 - 25 when participants return to ECU for additional work on the research project. In July, the leadership cohort will conduct a summer institute for 20 additional teachers.

The “Big Ideas in Science” project is funded by the NC QUEST Program from UNC General Administration as a collaborative partnership including ECU’s College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences and Beaufort County Schools.

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Contact: Carol Goodwillie | 252-328-4225