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National Science Teaching Standards

"Coasts of Change: An Inquiry-based Exploration of Environmental Change in the Mayan Coast, Mexico"

Saturday, June 29-Saturday, July 6, 2002.

Participant Fee: A comprehensive fee of $550.

The Environmental Learning Institute provides course transport from the Cancun rendezvous to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Mexico, on-course travel, food, cooking equipment, lodging, protected area fees, course reader and all scientific and research equipment.

†This fee does not include airfare from the participantís home to and from Cancun, personal clothing, personal equipment expenses, personal expenses or optional travel.

Rendezvous: 2 PM, Saturday, June 29, Cancun Airport - or - 4:30 PM, Saturday, June 29, Playa del Carmen Ferry Terminal (you can fly to Cancun - OR - Cozumel and take the ferry to Playa del Carmen). Check for the lowest fares to either rendezvous point.

Dropoff: 9 AM, Saturday, July 6, Cancun Airport. (Alternative 7 AM dropoff at Playa Del Carmen)

Credits: 4 graduate-level credits for recertification purposes available through Colorado School of Mines (additional $130 fee); graduate level credit for Master's degree students available through Rider University (additional fee required).

1. Facilitator Contact Information:

David Wojnowski, M.Ed., (aka "Sal") 919-715-5433,

Of Water Resources
1611 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27604

Kim Walsh, M.Ed., 919-832-2755,

Broughton High School
723 St. Mary's St
Raleigh, NC 27605

David Scott Silverberg, Ph.D., (aka "Daveed") 520 731-3374,

Environmental Learning Institute
5710 South Freeman Road #4
Tucson, AZ 85747

Kim Walsh

David Silverberg (aka Daveed)

David Wojnowski (aka Sal)


2. Brief Description:
The Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is composed of coral reefs, lagoons and tropical forests. In this TORCH we will explore through authentic inquiry-based learning-research activities the incredible coral reefs of Mexico's Mayan Coast. Described by Jacques Cousteau as one of the most magnificent on earth, we will use snorkels for our exploration. In addition, we will explore and investigate the remarkably diverse amphibians and reptiles of the coastal tropical forests. There are also visits to the remarkable Mayan ruins and the cinotes (freshwater underground rivers) throughout the area. A group of 12 intermediate-secondary level science teachers will be selected to study coastal ecosystems in the Mayan Coast, Mexico through hands-on explorations.

Teachers will:
· Learn about the climate, flora, fauna, and geology of Mayan coastal ecosystems.
· Become familiar with global and local threats to these ecosystems.
· Learn the Grinnel system of field journaling.
· Learn a variety of field research techniques that can be applied in the classroom as well as in the field with their students.
· Experience inquiry-based learning first-hand and develop inquiry-based lessons for their own classrooms.
· Be encouraged to establish long-term professional connections with each other and local experts.
· Participate in professional forums on inquiry-based science, alternative assessment, and constructivist pedagogy in the science classroom.
· Contribute to the creation of a world wide web site that will illustrate the philosophy, pedagogy and experiences of the workshop.

3. Site description:
oThe 8 days of the institute will be spent traveling to and from and staying in the Mayan Coast, Mexico.
oDays 1-2 the group will fly to Cancun, Mexica and then caravan to the Sian Ka'an Biospehere Reserve, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico and stay two nights at Tulum while working nearby on the Caribbean Coast. Study visits at the Mayan ruins and a snorkel in the cinotes (underground freshwater rivers).
oDays 3-6 the group will caravan through the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve along the Caribbean Coast to Punta Allen, Quintana Roo and stay three nights while working nearby in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Investigations by snorkel of the magnificent coral reef. Invesitgations of amphibians and reptiles in the tropical forest. Night walks in the tropical forest.
oDays 7 the group will caravan to Tulum while working nearby on the Caribbean Sea
oDay 8 the group will drive back to Cancun and then fly home.

4. Levels of teacher-participants: Participants may be pre-service or in-service teachers of secondary level life science, integrated science, biology, geology or environmental science.

5. Structure of workshop:

From June 29- July 6, we will travel South along the Yucatan Peninsula's Mayan Coast into the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. For those eight days, participants will attend content lectures and guided hikes and snorkels and undertake field studies in both coastal and forest ecosystems, comparing those of the Mayan Coast. Our days are filled with field work. Our evenings include lively text-based discussions of inquiry-based learning, expeditionary learning, team development models, global environmental change. There will also be several night walks in the forest.

6. Content Knowledge Topics: Natural Ecosystems and Ecological Concepts

This course provides an overview of the Mayan Coast, Quintana Roo, Mexico natural tropical coastal ecosystems: what they are; how they work; and how they evolve and adapt to change. Ecosystem structure and function, as well as ecosystem development and dynamic equilibrium are integrated into a central theme of sustainability from a local and global perspective. Particular emphasis will be given to the ecology of Quintana Roo's Caribbean Coast , the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere interactions and exchanges within the coastal zone and tropical biomes are introduced as related to issues of local and global environmental change. The philosophy, pedagogy and learning activities of the course employ a standards- and inquiry-based approach.

Lectures include:

Environmental History of Mexico

Experimental Design and Data Interpretation

Watersheds and Coastal Environmental Change

Causes and Consequences of Biodiversity

Geologic and Physical Geographic Development of the Yucatan Peninsula

Corridors and Global Climate Change

Mexico and Global Environmental Change

Habitat Fragmentation and Degradation

How Coral Reefs Work

Mexico's Protected Areas and Communities

7. Curriculum materials:
Each participant will receive a binder in which to put all course handouts. Included will be readings on global change and current environmental issues in coastal ecosystems, both global and local. Maps and field guides for each field site as well as descriptions of common field techniques and their applications will also be included. In addition, teachers will receive handouts regarding pedagogy, such as ways in which inquiry based learning may be implemented in the classroom. Each participant will receive a Project WET curriculum guide and a copy of Project Estuary.

8. Field Equipment: Our field lab includes several notebook computers, TI-89 graphing calculators, a full set of Vernier calculator and computer-based laboratory probes and standard geological and biological survey equipment. A digital projector, external portable CD-RW, portable printer, dreamweaver and fireworks web design software, compasses, underwater writing tablets, barometers, digital cameras, mini-DV camcorders, 35 mm SLR, microscopes, GPS units.

9. Food and Lodging: We will be cooking in our lodge and occassionally eating out in simple local restaurants. Participants will be asked to help the camp manager with cooking and cleaning chores in rotation. We will be lodging in simple lodges and sleeping in beds in shared rooms.

10. Physical Fitness Requirements: The Maya Coast TORCH course involves hiking, dayhiking with a 20 pound daypack, hiking on trails and off-trails, traveling in a van for several hours on sometimes curvy coastal roads, †traveling in a motorboat on a choppy water surface, snorkeling for several hours a day.† Participants will sleep in shared rooms in a simple lodge.