Conservation Educator Academy

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This blog is a sharing space for teachers participating in the 2016 Conservation Educator Academy at the Indianapolis Zoo.  Use this space to post comments, questions, reflections, and to share links.

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2017 Profiles

Posted by Dr. Tom on June 2, 2017 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (6)

Welcome to the 2017 Conservation Educator Academy!

To help us get to know each other, I'd like to ask you to post a personal profile with a photo in this forum. 

As an example, this is my personal profile. To post yours, just click "REPLY" to this post, and type similar information. You can attach a photo that is already online. I suggest posting an image on FaceBook or Instagram. Then view that image online and copy the URL. When you type your response, click the "insert image" icon - the blue square in the tool bar above the text window. It is the second from the right, next to the Emoticon icon. The paste in the URL, and your image will appear in your post.

I'd like you to include your name, what you teach (grade &/or subject), where you teach, and your favorite experience at a zoo (any zoo!)

So here is my example...

I'm Dr. Tom McConnell, and I teach at Ball State University. I teach courses in science teaching methods for both elementary and secondary levels, a biology course for elementary teachers, and occassional grad courses in education research methods or philosophy and nature of science. I've been teaching at Ball State for 9 years now. Prior to that, I taught biology at the high school level here in Indiana for 14 years. My work also involves writing some books related to science education, including a series of books about Problem-Based Learning in K-12 science classrooms, and a new series of books for kids (gr. 3-5) called "Conservation Tales."

As for my favorite zoo experience, that's tough! Visiting zoos has been a major part of my family vacation planning since I was a kid! But in January 2017, I came to the Indy Zoo for an Animal Art Experience. Sophie, the matriarch of the Zoo's elephant heard, painted a beautiful piece of art, and getting to meet her and her caretakers up close was fabulous! My photo posted here is from that visit.

So I am excited to start the 2017 CEA! Each year, I learn more about the Zoo, and I get to share our shared passion for conservation of wildlife, both at home and around the world! Can't wait to meet you all as we begin the Academy on the 19th!



2017 CEA?

Posted by kathy on February 14, 2017 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I am wondering how to go about signing up for the upcoming summer CEA program.  I also am unsure of where to post details about the lesson that I made last year and taught.  Any help figuring these two things out would be greatly appreciated.  Thank You!

Florida Algae Bloom and YOUR classroom?

Posted by Dr. Tom on July 2, 2016 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

CEA Teachers,

This week, I've been seeing a lot of news about a major algae bloom in the Inter Coastal Waterway along the Gulf Coast of Florida.  This algae bloom is a massive growth of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) that was caused by the flow of nutrients from Lake Okochobee. The bloom is toxic (same as the one mentioned by one of guest speakers!) and is intefering with human activity in the area. The next result is likely to be large fish kills because of the rapid consumption of oxygen when the cyanobacteria die off. There is also a lot of concern for manatees in the area - they are very susceptible to the toxic algae blooms in their habitat.  

This news is exactly the type of problem we discussed with The Nature Conservancy, the Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Zoo's program about soil conservation in Indiana.

I'm curious - have any of you thought of ways to incorporate this into your own teaching?  That may include the lesson plans you are developing for this CEA project, or it might be related to some other lesson.

You can use this Forum as a place to share ideas that might help in your own curriculum.

Lesson Planning Questions

Posted by Dr. Tom on June 25, 2016 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Conservation Educators, this post is a discussion to allow your comments and questions throughout the rest of the summer as you work to finish your lesson plans.

Looking for ideas or resources for activities?
Want some help with an assessment instrument?
In need some feedback from your peers?

Post your questions here for those topics.  We can use this as a "virtual professional learning community."

And if you're not posting questions or comments, keep an eye on this thread. You may that you have something you can share to help your colleagues.


Soil Conservation Ideas

Posted by Jamie H on June 23, 2016 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

If you are looking for help or someone to speak in your class about soil conservation, contact Sherry Fulk-Bringman from Purdue University.

Sherry Fulk-Bringman

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 765-494-4773


Photo Journaling - Share what you find!

Posted by Dr. Tom on June 14, 2016 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

As you take part in the CEA's activities, please share some of the photos and observations you make during the day. 

Personal Profile!

Posted by Dr. Tom on June 13, 2016 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (13)

Hello!  And WELCOME! 

We are about to start the 3rd cohort of the Conservation Educator Academy, and I'm excited to get going!

This blog "thread" is a place where I would like to ask you to post something about you, following the pattern I'm about to use here:

- Include a picture of you (helps us get to know each other)

- Where/what do you teach?

- Tell us a favorite experience at a zoo, aquarium, etc.

And to get this started, here is my "personal profile."I'm Tom McConnell, and I am a professor of Science Education at Ball State University. I just finished my 8th year here. I teach a Biology course for elementary teachers, and a group of science teaching methods courses for elementary and secondary teachers, as well as some graduate courses in science education. My research and writing is mostly involved in professional development for teachers, but I'm also working on some books for young readers (grades 3-5) about wildlife conservation.

I'm Tom McConnell, and I am a professor of Science Education at Ball State University. I just finished my 8th year here. I teach a Biology course for elementary teachers, and a group of science teaching methods courses for elementary and secondary teachers, as well as some graduate courses in science education. My research and writing is mostly involved in professional development for teachers, but I'm also working on some books for young readers (grades 3-5) about wildlife conservation.

One of my favorite zoo experiences was working as a volunteer at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in 1992-94. The training was fun, and spending a few hours in one exhibit lets you see things others might miss.



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