FGCU, Lee County Schools partnership hopes to inspire next generation of water researchers

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
Lee County School teachers learn about water quality research with FGCU. (WINK News)

Out of the classroom and into nature.

“It’s the chance of a lifetime to bring an outdoor classroom back indoors to all of my kids,” said Gulf Elementary fourth grade teacher, Monica Baker.

She’s getting hands-on experience sampling water.

“The biggest thing I think was how much there is to learn and how all the different devices work,” she said.

Thanks to a partnership between FGCU and Lee County Schools under the direction of Dr. Serge Thomas, teachers collected information like temperature, conductivity and dissolved oxygen.

“The idea is that those teachers will get experience doing real-life research so they can figure out how to take some of those skills back to their classroom and back to their schoolyard,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones, Director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at FGCU.

“This parameter is like when you’re going to the doctor. You take the pulse, you’re taking your temperature, you know, all of those parameters will tell you if the lake or the water body is healthy,” Dr. Thomas explained.

The idea is to teach educators and, in turn, students, about the health of our water and pass on those lessons to young minds in the classroom.

“Oh, it is critical. We live in Florida. Especially here in Southwest Florida, we have to get our kids involved and start teaching them,” Baker said.

“If they bond with Mother Nature, they’ll be more likely to protect Mother Nature,” Thomas said.

The hope for this partnership is to expand next school year. The goal is to have 20 Lee County teachers on board.

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