We are thrilled to host so many educators this summer. We are also thrilled to share their thoughts. Below you will find a FB post from Patricia Cleveland, an educator from South Carolina!
Home from hands down the best #professionallearning, in the most beautiful location I have ever attended (Maui, Germany and Naples are all still up there, but man #newrivergorgenationalpark blew it out of the water). #steaminthepark was 5 days of #learning, #exploring, #investigating, #challenges, #teamwork, #science, #engineering, #art, #campfires, #smores, #math #technology (teacher summer camp ). 5 days in the outdoors investigating how everything in our world is interconnected from #watersamples and #macroinvertebrates to helping collect samples for the #mercury #dragonflyproject and doing a #moth inventory. 5 days of trying new things, and being reminded that you need to be #brave and just go and do and learn. We learned from all of the #nationalparkrangers that dedicated their time and energy to teaching us about everything from #fishing, the history of the park and surrounding region (railroad and coal mine towns and how they interacted and depended on one another) to collecting samples of the #water in the #NewRiver, #macroinvertebrates, #moth #inventory (at least 4 new to NERI species were photographed) to the mercury #dragonfly project samples. Then there was really scary parts that reminded me that I have to step out of my comfort zone and be brave sometimes like going to a conference where I’ve only “met” two other participants through our teacher group and therefore didn’t know a soul, to doing the @bridgewalkwv at 851 feet above the river with a walk of over a half mile, (Paul was the best guide, he knew so much of the history and engineering of the bridge, a natural #teacher) to @aceadventureresort #whitewaterrafting (thanks Scottie O for the most exhilarating ride!and another natural born teacher, he can tell you all of the information about the formation of the rapids and history of the gorge *amazing jokes too ) I can’t thank @newrivernps @nationalparkservice and @expeditionsineducation enough for this opportunity to attend “teacher summer camp” and I am saving my pennies already so I can go to #steaminthepark again next summer. Teacher friends put the first week of January in your calendar now to sign up for one of these events! New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Expeditions In Education ACE Adventure Resort BridgeWalk National Park Service
Thanks Patti for sharing your experience!
One of my favorite parts of our STEAM in the Park program is the "A" time- the ART. I find that having an artistic outlet, regardless of my skill level, is a great way to decompress, process what I've learned, and explore new art mediums. At Bryce Canyon National Park we were lucky to have the chance to learn some basic watercolor painting techniques. Sitting on the rim of the canyon gave us an incredible subject to paint- from the vanilla-smelling trees to the burnt sienna hoodoos and cliffs, and on to the blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds, there was lots to look at and take in.
Art does so many great things - for kids and adults alike. It helps us tap into our creative side. That inclination we have to explore new ideas for representing what we know and do. It helps us express new learning, and it gives us an opportunity to not be perfect- something I always need to practice!
When our original teacher ended up sick we were fortunate to have Ms. Bonnie step in as our facilitator & teacher. I was amazed at how she jumped right into the experience. She taught us some great tips and techniques to get started with watercolor. She encouraged us to give things a try, and if it didn't work out to try something different. Isn't that exactly what we'd want our students to do? What a joy and a gift to have some time to learn with her.
How might you include art in your lessons? You'll be amazed (and maybe even surprised) at the good that comes from it!
Today was our first full day of STEAM in the Park at Bryce Canyon National Park, and what a wonderful day it was! Weather was absolutely perfect, from the chilly start to the blue skies splotched with fluffy white clouds hanging on the horizon. We even felt a few drops of rain here and there. Two highlights of the day were our discussions with Park Rangers which focused on biodiversity and human impact at Bryce Canyon.
Our afternoon conversations with Ranger Andres began with a compelling question. He asked us, "How do we make sense of the land that we see here?" This lead to wonderful conversations about the many ways we innately consider land, and the much deeper and richer opportunities we have to dig a little deeper and see the interconnectedness between humans and the Earth. Ranger Andres encouraged us to think not just of past human history, but also to consider our current relationship with the land which will help inform our future abilities to live and thrive as people and communities. He spoke about indigenous peoples who have inhabited the Bryce Canyon area for at least 10,000 years. He shared stories of Spanish missionaries and explorers in the 1700's. He spoke about pioneers and settlers in the 1800's for whom the canyon is now named. And, he spoke about all those who currently visit and explore the hoodoos, canyons, mesas, and plateaus of this area.
Ranger Andres followed up his initial question with several more that were designed to get us thinking, and lead to many conversations between us as we walked the rim of the canyon. Some of the things he asked include:
- Susan Bowdoin
My name is Susan Bowdoin, and I'm the Program Director for STEAM in the Park. Bryce Canyon is the second of eight National Park visits for STEAM in the Park this summer, and I'm excited to be joining Dacia and Steve in welcoming our campers! Though our official start isn't for a couple of days, we've already had some great "firsts" that are worth sharing.
We have shared, laughed, paddled, cooked, swam, cried, sang, hiked, and marveled over the wonder of nature together. We met up as virtual acquaintances and are leaving as friends. We became "Firefly Friends".
Fireflies symbolize communication and illumination – two necessary elements for connecting with new friends that we would never have noticed in our usual domestic habitats. Several things must be in place to generate that “firefly spark.” There needs to be vulnerability from being somewhere new. Plus a sense of proximity, similarity, and resonance between people. And the environment matters, too. When we’re somewhere unfamiliar or facing adventure, we bond more quickly with those around us.
Once these factors are in place, the fire’s been laid for firefly friendships to ignite. These friendships spark a strong bond between relative strangers. Memories of these encounters may become highlights of your journey – even if you never see these friends again. Like a firefly’s glow, these intense friendships spring up without warning and burn brightly before their light fades away.
Northern Public Radio | By. (2022, May 24). Perspective: Firefly friendships. Northern Public Radio: WNIJ and WNIU. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.northernpublicradio.org/wnij-perspectives/2019-08-01/perspective-firefly-friendships