Outdoors
What are the physics of a Tlingit canoe? What is the chemistry of smoking fish?
Live stream-ing UAS program brings Southeast's outdoors into the classroom 021914 OUTDOORS 1 Capital City Weekly What are the physics of a Tlingit canoe? What is the chemistry of smoking fish?

Photos Courtesy Kristen Romanoff

STREAM Institute 2013 participants set up a trail camera at Montana Creek in July 2013. The goal of STREAM is to create a "pedagogy of place," using place to teach technology, science, reading, and other subject areas. The team's camera, seen in the three pictures above, captured a black bear, mink, eagles and other wild creatures that could be used to teach lessons.


Photos Courtesy Kristen Romanoff

STREAM Institute 2013 participants set up a trail camera at Montana Creek in July 2013. The goal of STREAM is to create a "pedagogy of place," using place to teach technology, science, reading, and other subject areas. The team's camera, seen in the three pictures above, captured a black bear, mink, eagles and other wild creatures that could be used to teach lessons.


Photos Courtesy Kristen Romanoff

STREAM Institute 2013 participants set up a trail camera at Montana Creek in July 2013. The goal of STREAM is to create a "pedagogy of place," using place to teach technology, science, reading, and other subject areas. The team's camera, seen in the three pictures above, captured a black bear, mink, eagles and other wild creatures that could be used to teach lessons.


Photo Courtesy Kristen Romanoff

Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife educator Kristen Romanoff shows STREAM Institute 2013 participants a field camera image of a bear.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Story last updated at 2/19/2014 - 2:31 pm

Live stream-ing UAS program brings Southeast's outdoors into the classroom

What are the physics of a Tlingit canoe? What is the chemistry of smoking fish?

If you're teaching science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math, why not teach them through a lens of place and culture?

The STREAM institute, whose name comes from the initials of the subjects it teaches, is an initiative by the University of Alaska Southeast and partners. Its aim is to create school lessons specific to Southeast Alaska.

"The goal is to create a capacity in Alaska's teachers to create a pedagogy of place," said Mark Standley, director of the UAS Professional Education Center.

One of the program's goals is to combat the lack of local knowledge that results when people move frequently.

"As students migrate from state to state in the Lower 48 and even here (in Alaska,) my phrase would be a kind of 'placelessness,'" Standley told a group of educators at a recent meeting.

"This is not a radically new idea," he said. "I think what is unique is that one, it's for Southeast Alaska, and two, we love that we've gotten a partner with Native corporations ... that's just been so valuable to us."

STREAM held its first institute last summer in Juneau with about 60 teachers. They split their time among five "habitats," outdoor and indoor classrooms designed to teach different aspects of Southeast. The habitats included glacier, streams, forest, the beach and a virtual habitat. Culture-bearers helped interpret each habitat.

At the streams habitat, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife education specialist Kristen Romanoff and a team installed cameras at Montana Creek. Over a short period of time, the cameras recorded mink, porcupine, three deer, a black bear and an eagle pulling a salmon carcass out of the creek.

"It's amazing because Montana Creek is right here in our own community, but it's so ecologically diverse and rich," she said. "The main thing is just we live in such an amazing state and region and all of our schools have ... pretty easy access to natural areas." Taking a class outdoors and teaching them about the place they live is a powerful thing, she said.

Standley said one of his favorite strategies is finding the science in Tlingit, Haida, or Tsimshian stories.

"The science that's in the Salmon Boy story (told in Tlingit and other oral traditions) is remarkable," he said.

At the meeting, scholar Richard Dauenhauer said this story has many versions. The basic pattern, however, is that a taboo is violated, and a boy goes to live with and be educated by the salmon people. The taboo varies, depending on where the story is told.

That story, Standley said, could get into political science and legal issues, as well as the math, science and chemistry around brining and smoking fish.

Another story Standley loves is about trees communicating with one another.

"It's a traditional story, but in Western science, of course trees communicate with other trees," he said. "I love the fact that both can coexist and become part of the knowledge set for students and teachers."

Part of the idea is to empower students by putting learning and teaching tools in their hands, Standley said. Technology is key to that. A student could use a drone, for example, to "monitor their backyard," he said.

"One of the most important aspects of STREAM is that it is inquiry-based," said Frank Coenraad, director of Alaska's Learning Network, which "improves student achievement through online learning and professional development opportunities."

Standley said STREAM started with UAS' provost, chancellor and school of education.

"It's a lot of ownership," Coenraad said. "There were quite a few meetings where we just listened and listened some more. We empowered our partners to get not only a feel but also a definite stake in the STREAM institute."

Sealaska Heritage Institute Education Director Jackie Kookesh said SHI paid for 15 Juneau teachers to attend last summer's STREAM Institute.

SHI had just received an Alaska Native Education Program grant to "improve school climates through cultural connectedness." It offers a cultural orientation, and by the end, the teachers develop a place-based, culturally relevant lesson plan and implement it in their classrooms, she said.

"It's a good partnership," she said of SHI and STREAM. "We were pretty much focusing on the same themes."

Partners include Goldbelt, Sealaska, Google, the Department of Education, Apple, and others. They plan another institute this summer, this time, to avoid conflict with Celebration, elsewhere in Southeast Alaska. They envision the institute alternating in and out of Juneau.


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