CNY Teachers Fall 2020: 

My fellow teachers, This pandemic has totally upended how all of us are teaching our classes this year.  At Cornell University, I am teaching my Naturalist Outreach class (blogs.cornell.edu/naturalistoutreach) online and it is infinitely harder than doing it in-person.  I know that you too are having a harder time making your classes as effective in this online and sometimes in-person teaching world.  This year, I’ve got 14 talented college students developing presentations about nature, sustainability, and conservation to give virtual presentations to your classes if you have the interest and bandwidth to make it happen. Besides the science content of the presentations, my college students are emphasizing that they are developing scientists and that your students can also become scientists, as well as the joy of learning and the college experience.  We are trying to develop as interactive and ‘visual-hands-on’ presentations as possible, but I admit we are trying out different approaches to achieve that.   The college students are accessible and engaging scientist role models for elementary, middle, and high school students.  Check out this year’s presentations at Presentations 2020.  Presentations are only available in the Fall Semester and preferably for 2nd grade on up. Our presentations can be requested at: https://blogs.cornell.edu/naturalistoutreach/presentations/request-a-presentation/.

If you have ideas how to make our interactions with you most effective, please let us know!  In the past, we’ve often done ‘Meet a Scientist or Ecology Day’ where a bunch of my students gave many talks so that the entire 5th grade heard 4 or 5 different presentations on a single day.  We can still do that sort of thing, but recognize that a day of zoom presentations is too much for everyone!  We are still happy to talk at special library lunch talks or something equivalent.

I hope to increase your access to online science resources for your classes.  One place to start is with the appealing Naturalist Outreach Nature Videos which cover powerful concepts in ecology, conservation, and biodiversity. The 36 videos were designed to enhance elementary science curricula and star accessible ‘role model’ college students from my class.  The gorgeous videos are 3 to 15 minutes long.  Second, take a look at the Resources about different topics on this website.  I am about to make them Open Educational Resources (OER) for your use, but please feel free to access anything now. The videos range from 3 min to ~15min.  When I produced these videos my goal was to help enhance classroom science curriculum with beautiful, engaging videos about critical issues in ecology and biodiversity.  I admit, some videos, especially the more recent videos are stronger than others, as we learned how to improve animation and scripts over time.  The videos have been viewed over 3-million times and some have won awards!! I think are ideal for online science learning.

Dr. Linda S. Rayor, Director of Naturalist Outreach Program

Matthew Barrett, Associate Director and Scheduler, Naturalist Outreach Program.

 What the Naturalist Outreach Program provide to our community: Naturalist Outreach college students give free enthusiastic, hands-on biology presentations about nature and ecology to K-12 classes and community groups in Central NY.

Who are the Presenters? The presenters are accessible scientist role-models who excite students about biology, nature, — and college. By presenting lively, enthusiastic, NGSS based, and age-appropriate, science based presentations, we work to open the world of backyard biology to young people, enrich local 2nd – H.S. science instruction, and simultaneously train Cornell students to communicate effectively about science.

Why do we do science outreach? The goals of the Naturalist Outreach Program are to improve science literacy, to help attract students into science, and enhance appreciation for the environment.  Additionally, our mission is to help train college students improve their ability to communicate science and teach effectively.. My goal is to help inspire a generation of Cornell students to become civically engaged in scientific outreach.

For Teachers -On this website, you will be able to:

  • Request presentations, find out more about the student presenters, and provide online reviews of their performances.
  • Access curricular materials and resources related to the presentations.  We have organized the resources by key concepts, type of organisms, and type of resource (short STEM videos, Presentation guides, Educational Games or worksheets).  Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core goals are now being linked to each resource or unit of resources.
  • Find out about the latest Naturalist Outreach Nature videos starring Naturalist Outreach students talking about major ecological and biodiversity issues.  The videos are designed to be played in class to help your students!
  • Cornell students who want to take the Naturalist Outreach Practicum course [Entom 3350, 4 cr} should contact Dr. Rayor by email (LSR1) as soon as possible to get an enrollment code for pre-enrollment or prior to the course in the Fall.  I want to know more about you and learn about your desire to share your interest in biology with the public.  Send me a short introduction to why you want to take the class (besides oral comm credit!!).   I’ve posted expectations in Outreach course .