The McCall Outdoor Science School partners with University of Idaho's College of Education to offer a unique experience for both pre-service teachers and MOSS graduate students. Undergraduates in the College of Education, pursuing their degree in Education and Teaching Certificate, come to MOSS for a one week immersion in outdoor teaching. Education students come to MOSS towards the end of their teacher training curriculum at the beginning of either the fall or spring semester. They participate in the MOSS program both as a learner and a teacher, creating a rich and unique experience that will diversify and add to their teacher training. Education students stay on the beautiful MOSS campus, as they would if they had brought their class to MOSS for the week, enabling them to have the full MOSS experience.
During the day, education students head out into the field with MOSS graduate student instructors to learn about the geology, ecosystems, water ecology, energy systems, and local plant and animal adaptations of Ponderosa State Park. Education students learn both about the outdoor science topics and team building games that are used with the MOSS curriculum. As education students are learning about teaching outdoor science to their future students, they are also participating in a conversation about teaching with the MOSS graduate students. Both MOSS graduate students and UI education students mutually benefit from this learning experience as they share ideas, content, and brainstorm new methods for teaching students. MOSS graduate students have the opportunity to learn group management and teaching techniques from the education students. This opportunity also allows MOSS graduate students to practice their teaching on an audience that can offer helpful feedback and provide useful tools in teaching students. Education students benefit by learning about a different approach to science and get a hands on experience with various science technology.
The joining of pre-service teachers and MOSS graduate students in an outdoor setting provides a meaningful and rich learning experience for everyone that will benefit their future K-12 students. The following quotes from college of education students demonstrate the positive impact this partnership provides:
"I retained way more information during our MOSS trip than in (my biology, chemistry and geography) classes. My MOSS experience gave me new hope that it's not that science just isn't my subject, I just need to go about learning about the world in a different way."
"I also liked that the Moss graduates acted as facilitators instead of just telling us how to think and what to learn. I felt like I was in charge of my own learning and exploring what I wanted to know and inquire about."
"Growing up, Science was my least favorite subject. For many years the class gave me anxiety because when I thought of ‘Science’ I pictured being in a lab, summarizing data, and working through complex experiments. But, as the grad students cleverly showed us on the first night, all you need to be a scientist are your five senses. Science is a subject that needs to be experienced, firsthand. Instead of flipping through my textbook searching for the traits of Ponderosa Pines I was hiking among them, sniffing their vanilla fragrance and feeling their rough bark."
"MOSS is what every educational experience should be, but isn’t. At MOSS you are immersed in the ultimate science lab, our natural world. I found I learned while on the way to learning, simply because when in such an environment one can’t help but wonder."
"My experience at MOSS showed me how place based education can really inspire students and get them thinking and questioning on their own. Growing up I never really looked forward to my STEM based classes but after going to MOSS and seeing how easy it is for me to integrate STEM into my classroom and get students excited and engaged, I feel much more confident that I will be able to break the stereotype of boring science and math classes and get my students outside and into the community and really seeing how STEM affects our daily lives and how fun it can be exploring new places, coming up with questions, experimenting with technology, and becoming true scientists. I think that my new passion for place based and inquiry based education will benefit my students greatly!"