lake environmental education

Assistantship Project Examples

Every student at MOSS receives a part-time graduate research assistantship (GRA). Part-time is defined as 10 hours per week. GRAs come in many forms at different academic institutions. At MOSS, the GRA consists of 38 weeks, 10 hours per week at $14.61/hour for a total of $5,552. The 38 weeks span the fall and spring semester when you are learning, living and teaching on the McCall Field Campus. The paragraphs below describe the GRAs our students are working on in the 2013-2014 school year.

NARA Scholars

The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) is a project funded under the U.S. Department of Agriculture NIFA Sustainable Bioenergy CAP program (Award 2011-68005-30416). NARA is focused on developing the feasibility of a regional system for sustainable production of bioenergy and biobased products from woody biomass[1] in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The Education team within NARA engages citizens, meets future workforce needs, enhances science literacy in biofuels, and helps people understand how they are going to fit into the new energy economy. The Education team specifically works towards NARA Goal 5: Bioenergy Literacy- Improve bioenergy literacy to develop a future workforce and enhance citizen understanding. MOSS will support NARA Graduate Scholars assigned to the following focus areas; Curriculum, Assessment, Teacher Training, and Web-based resources.
1. Web-based Resources Support Role
Because many stakeholders and team members in this project are scattered across the Northwest, web-based resources help us share information, communicate within the project and disseminate beyond the project. This is an important function that the Education team supports and it includes several online venues:
- NARA Blog
- Knowledge Base
- Suite of google products

This role will utilize and generate content for the Education team efforts. Good computer skills are preferred, but no advanced programming is used at all. This role will maintain some of our ongoing web updates (content), as well as work closely with other team members to connect new information to the web and into lesson plans.

2. Curriculum Support Role
One of the key things that is expected of our team is to take biofuel research and information from the NARA project and infuse it into existing lessons or generate new curricular materials related to this work as it emerges. While this could include curriculum designed for use in an environment like MOSS, there is also a great need to generate material that would work in a traditional classroom environment. This role will stay connected to project efforts, while at times searching for supplementary information that will be combined into curricular materials that are cross-referenced to current standards as well as uploaded into some of our web-based resources.

3. NARA Assessment Support Role
In an effort to understand how MOSS students are benefiting from energy literacy curriculum pre and post surveys are used at MOSS. Graduate students will assist in the data collection and analysis of surveys taken by MOSS K-12 students. Duties will include data entry, data cleanup and potentially preliminary analysis. Graduate student duties may also include creating, updating or editing existing surveys for K-Graduate students as well as teachers.

4. Teacher Professional Development
MOSS leads professional development experiences for middle and high school teachers including a summer workshop and a year-long mentoring experience where teachers coach teams for a problem-solving competition at Washington State University. The TPD scholar will assist in the logistics, planning and delivery of workshops and monthly phone calls with teachers.


Track 40+ years of global change with Landsat

Monitoring the state of the Earth is of great societal importance. To monitor the earth surface we mainly rely on satellite imagery. The longest running satellite program for earth surface monitoring is the Landsat program, launched in 1972. This 40+ year history of the Landsat program makes it especially important for global change research. Further, imagery provided by Landsat provides invaluable information to professionals in a wide variety of disciplines such as agriculture, forestry, geology, and cartography. However, the general public knows relatively little about the Landsat program, its significance for monitoring the state of the Earth, and its importance for many professionals. The overarching objective of this project will be to promote the use of Landsat satellite data for science education, and thus ultimately raising the public awareness of the Landsat program and its significance. For this, your responsibility will be to fully develop and test a lesson plan that i) makes use of Landsat satellite imagery, ii) gets students outdoors, and iii) meets next generation science standards. It is expected that the lesson plan you develop is of high quality so that it can be piloted and submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal such as The Science Teacher. This project is supported by AmericaView.

EPSCoR scholars

Build communities of learners who will learn about ecosystem services and their importance in Idaho’s diverse landscapes

A new effort is being funded by the National Science Foundation Idaho Experimental Program for Stimulating Competitive Research Experimental Program (EOSCoR) to form Bridging and Learning Communities (BLCs) across the state of Idaho. There is a strong need within Idaho to bridge the gap between high school and college, particularly among students who are underrepresented minorities and who are first-generation college students. To bridge this gap, BLCs will be formed in three Study Areas within Idaho that are undergoing rapid urbanization: the Treasure Valley (Greater Boise area), the Pocatello region, and the Coeur d’Alene-Post Falls corridor. BLCs will be comprised of teams of approximately 12 core participants, including faculty who teach first-year STEM courses, 1st year undergraduates, high school STEM teachers, high school juniors and seniors, community leaders, and faculty and graduate student facilitators. This project is nested within a broader scientific context relating to sustaining Idaho’s natural resources and ecosystem services (called Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystem Services, or MILES).

BLC teams will be formed during the school year. Next summer, these BLC teams will participate in place-based Adventure Learning expeditions that will explore various facets of the MILES theme while building bridges to better serve students and the broader community. Each expedition will launch with a 3-day orientation to MILES research and pedagogical goals; leadership training personnel will be located at each Study Area where MILES activities take place. This orientation will be followed by 5-day field expeditions in the MILES study areas. The BLC teams will also use the Adventure Learning expeditions to create communities of “followers” using social media and blogs in real time, and will generate lasting impacts via internet-archived video and audio productions for educational and outreach value.

If you are paired with this project, you will work with partners in one of the three identified Study Areas within Idaho (including project leads at Boise State University, Idaho State University, and the University of Idaho) to develop these Bridging and Learning Communities and the pedagogy of this program. Specifically, your responsibilities will include supporting these local partners to: i) identify BLC team members and carry out BLC team formation and communications, and ii) develop and coordinate the delivery of the curriculum that will undergird the Adventure Learning expedition to occur next summer. Due to the novelty of this project, it is expected that your work will result in a model that can be published in a journal such as The Science Teacher. Students will work in pairs, with two students focused on supporting and developing the program in each of the Study Areas. We anticipate that two or three students will continue to work on this project beyond May 2014.

SCF (Site-specific climate-friendly farming) Scholars

Help kids explore changes in how plants work using cutting-edge, low cost light sensors

Subtle differences in the way that various colors of light are reflected from plants can provide valuable information to scientists and professionals in disciplines such as agriculture and forestry. However, until recently, radiometers that measure reflected light were expensive--making this technology unavailable to many potential users. Recently, our Geospatial Laboratory for Environmental Dynamics at the University of Idaho developed some low cost radiometers that are now commercially produced by Decagon Devices, Inc. The radiometers are similarly priced as many Vernier probes, which may allow the use of these radiometers for science education. While working in collaboration with Decagon and UI scientists, your responsibility will be to fully develop and test a lesson plan that i) makes use of low-cost radiometers to monitor crops (e.g., their phenology, foliar biochemistry), ii) gets students outdoors, and iii) and meets next generation science standards. It is expected that the lesson plan you develop is of high quality so that it can be piloted and submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal such as The Science Teacher. There will also be the opportunity to collect original data in this project for further analysis, if you are so inclined! This project is sponsored by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.