The Institute for School Partnership is part of a new National Science Foundation movement ecology research and education project involving scientists at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the Max Planck Institute, wildlife veterinarians at the Saint Louis Zoo, and educators at the Houston Zoo. The research centers on the health and migration patterns of giant tortoises on the Galapagos Islands and also box turtles in the St. Louis area. Stephen Blake, PhD, WUSTL visiting scientist, pulled all of the project collaborators together and approached the ISP to join in the project after successful integration of teenage TERF program participants into the St. Louis-based turtle tracking team last summer.
ISP Assistant Director Susan Flowers recently traveled with Steve to Galapagos to meet with giant tortoise field researchers, scientists at the Charles Darwin Research Station, environmental educators at the Galapagos National Park, and program staff and ecology club students at Ecology Project International. Over the next three years, Susan will work closely with Steve and educators in both Galapagos and the US to develop middle and high school level instructional materials based on the tortoise and turtle research. The educational materials will be pilot tested with teachers in St. Louis and on Galapagos and then broadly disseminated. Teachers in St. Louis will be able to attend a Hot Topics: Movement Ecology Workshop in 2014.
The project will also connect St. Louis-based teen TERFers with Galapagos-based EPI ecology club teens through social media, for sharing of field experiences and comparison of data between the two tracking projects. There is hope for similar connections to develop between the US and Galapagos teachers who integrate the new educational materials into their classrooms.