GTIP 2008 Interns

Allisa Pack, Glasgow, KY
Debbie Sherfey, Temple Hill Elementary School, Glasgow, KY

This year we received from each teacher intern a final report and evaluation of the program as well as three trail guides to be used for self-study by classroom teachers, homeschool groups and other interested visitors. The final reports included five to ten digital photographs. Additional images will be provided as their students use the park's resources. Each teacher has scheduled and will present two public programs / presentations that will help community members understand the park, park resources, and types of geoscience jobs/careers available. Each of our 2008 intern teachers has also submitted photographs of their work in the park as well as with their students. They have agreed to supply additional photographs as the school year progresses.

In addition, the 2008 intern teachers will work with future Intern teachers as well as those teachers who completed the program in 2006 and 2007 to expand the growing teacher network that will educate local and regional peers, students, and parents on park resources and types of geoscience jobs/careers available, among other topics.

What activities occurred this summer?

During the summer of 2008, the Geoscience-Teachers-in-the-Park worked on a variety of projects. These projects included:

  • Working closely with projects initiated and conducted by the 2008 Geoscientist-in-the-Park
  • Obtained and documented GPS coordinates for newly discovered cave entrances located within Mammoth Cave National Park
  • Developed three (3) self-guided trail guides for homeschool teachers and others who want both an educational experience on the park's trails and the flexibility of going at one's own pace. Trail guides focused on the area's karst surface features (geology) and connected those features to the park's biology and history.
  • Assisted in water monitoring project within Mammoth Cave.
  • Participated in a geomorphology class to learn more about how the caves formed.
  • Participated in a long-term cave cricket monitoring program (comparison of cave population numbers to temperatures and humidity levels, as well as man-made vs. environmental influences on populations).
  • Participated in a long-term Allegheny woodrat monitoring program (compares woodrat use of managed cave entrances versus natural cave entrances)
  • Assisted in a national bird banding project
  • Assisted with bat roost monitoring project.
  • Attended several training programs (Project WILD, citizen science workshop, etc.) to increase knowledge of programs and associated skills that could be incorporated into the classroom.

What activities are planned for the academic year?

2008 Teacher Intern Debra Sherfey has:

  • engaged her students in a month-long unit of study that examined the local karst landscape. As a culminating activity, all 48 students participated in an off-trail cave tour on September 4th or 5th to: 1) observe cave developments that are a direct result of karst features on the surface, 2) explore un-developed cave passages, 3) examine fossil remains in sito, and 4) appreciate the difficulties experience by early visitors to the cave system. This trip was led by our 2007 Geoscience Teacher-in-the-Park Intern, Sarah Talley.

Some of the ways that the teachers plan to share their experiences with their students include:

  • The use of personal experiences and locally based, on-going scientific studies as real-world examples for their students.
  • Working with Mammoth Cave (MACA) and Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning (MCICSL) staff to provide hands-on learning and volunteer opportunities for their students.
  • One of the teachers stated, "Mammoth Cave offers so many different aspects that can be offered to every child, no matter what their learning style, and broaden their knowledge of an area that is readily accessible to them. As a teacher it is my job to utilize this park and give each student the opportunity to become involved in different projects that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in."
  • Use the "What is a scientist?" lesson plan that was developed by the 2007 interns to show students that scientists are not necessarily the stereotypical "old guy in a lab coat with a chemistry set." They hope the lesson plan will ignite an interest in science among their students and encourage them to pursue scientific careers.
  • Present a professional development session on Mammoth Cave National Park and the GTIP program to pre-service teachers at each of the Western Kentucky University's campuses (in Bowling Green, Glasgow, Owensboro, and Elizabethtown, Kentucky). This will allow new teachers to learn about the opportunities available at Mammoth Cave prior to beginning their careers.
  • Additional community presentations planned