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September 23, 2010
Teachers Bring Exploration into the Classroom
Alcoa Foundation-Sponsored Program Motivates Teachers to Take
Environmental Education to Higher Level
NEW YORK--While some teachers will refer to standard science lesson plans this
school year, 15 teachers, fresh from a mile-high adventure, have
something else in mind to make science a big hit with their students.
These teachers, from 11 Alcoa communities, attended a week-long program
in Colorado to transform themselves into curious kids and learn new ways
to teach science by doing science. The program, funded by Alcoa
Foundation as part of its partnership with The
Keystone Center, is aimed at motivating teachers to take
environmental learning to a higher level.
The Keystone Center, through its Key
Issues Institute, works with teachers to bring environmental issues
into the classroom in a highly interactive way and trains them to
investigate complex problems with their students. At the same time, the
teachers enhance their professional development skills and add to their
Since 1997, Alcoa Foundation has sent 160 teachers from 76 U.S. Alcoa
communities to the Key Issues Institute. This year, 11 Alcoa communities
were represented: Goose Creek, S.C.; Ferndale, Wash., Rockdale, Texas;
Wenatchee, Wash.; Muskegon, Mich.; Lancaster, Pa.; Evansville, Ind.;
Port Lavaca, Texas; Winsted, Conn.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Whitehall, Mich.
“These teachers have dug through dirt and slogged through streams to
learn about the environment. Now, they’ve taken what they have learned
back into the classroom to inspire their students. It’s a phenomenal
program, and we are proud to support it,” said Alcoa Foundation
President Paula Davis.
Key Issues Framework
The teachers will use the Keystone Center’s Key Issues Framework, which
meets National Education Standards in several disciplines, to implement
classroom plans on local environmental matters. The framework promotes a
collaborative approach to a scientific investigation that includes
problem solving, labs, data collection and simulations.
“Teachers take the framework back into the classroom and involve their
students to take on a local environmental issue with an unbiased,
inquiry-based approach,” said Anne Love, Program Director, Key Issues
Institute. “Our research shows that 89 percent of teachers say they
teach environmental issues more successfully and confidently in the
classroom after participating in the Key Issues program.”
Tiffany King, a 6th grade math and science teacher from
Whitehall Middle School in Whitehall, Mich., plans to tie exotic or
invasive species that could hinder the environment into her lesson plan
on adaptation for plants and animals.
“I applied for the Key Issues program to learn more techniques to get my
students excited about environmental activities happening locally in
Michigan,” King said. “It is challenging to teach students science
inside the classroom. I find it best if you can get them out and
actually touch the leaf or see the animal. It just means so much more,
and it is something they will remember for a long time”
Another graduate of this year’s program, Nancy Hudson, a social studies
teacher from Horizon Middle School in Ferndale, Wash., plans to team
with the 7th grade science teacher at her school on a project
involving salmon rights in the Pacific Northwest. “I strongly believe
integration is key to a successful learning experience. I attended the
Keystone program with a colleague, who is a middle-school science
teacher. Our heads were spinning with ideas on coordinating a local
project that would have a sustainability angle,” Hudson said.
Past participants in the Keystone program have addressed diverse issues
including water and air quality, solid waste management and recycling.
To learn first-hand about some of the Alcoa Foundation-sponsored
teachers’ experiences at the Key Issues Institute, watch video at http://www.alcoa.com/keystoneprogram.
About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is a nonprofit U.S. corporate foundation with assets of
approximately US$425 million. In addition to addressing locally
identified needs in communities where Alcoa operates, Alcoa Foundation
is focused on unlocking solutions to critical environmental
sustainability challenges, including global climate change. Alcoa
Foundation has been a long-term partner in Alcoa communities worldwide
for more than fifty years, investing over US$515 million since 1952.
More information can be found at www.alcoa.com/foundation.