I'm in Media, PA, at the Penn State Brandywine campus attending a workshop as part of my TESSE Fellowship responsibilities (FYI: TESSE stands for Transforming Earth System Science Education). Essentially, I serve as a content expert (along with two other grad students) on earth and space science to a suite of teachers from primarily Pennsylvania (there are also a handful of teachers from Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, and North Carolina).
Like most things involving grad students, this fellowship is made possible through a 3-year grant (this is the final year of the grant). I was lucky to be involved with this program last school year, and I feel even more lucky to be involved with this program again this school year. The workshop itself is geared toward current and budding Earth Science teachers who are interested in enhancing/refining/developing/etc. their content knowledge and teaching practices/methods/techniques involving earth sciences. Several topics relating to earth sciences are covered during this workshop, and there are also wonderful exercises that we go through as an entire group to demonstrate some of the activities that can be implemented in their classrooms.
Some quick reminiscing of my childhood: Once upon a time, I was going to be a geologist. I had chosen this occupation when I was in 5th grade based on my love of collecting rocks. Not similarly (and more of a side note), I also loved to stand in my backyard with an umbrella while it was raining and give fake weather reports to the trees. I digress. I have loved the Earth from an early age, which carried over to my undergraduate years when I was an Earth Sciences major. So even though my current work is in energy, I still have a very strong love/interest/passion for the Earth Sciences.
While I do not consider myself an expert of Earth Sciences, I do consider myself as a great resource for the participating teachers due to my different research experiences in Earth Sciences and Energy. At some point this week, I will be paired up with a handful of the teachers and we will continue interacting throughout the school year. I had a great experience with the teachers I was paired with last year, and I am hopeful about the teachers in this group - they are a lot of fun already.
I have much more to say about the TESSE program and workshop, but I will save those for later posts as I can tell I'm beginning to ramble. BUT! I will quickly say that being around the teachers really makes me appreciate the work/desire that goes into teaching. They also have wonderful stories - both amusing and heartbreaking - about their experiences...but, you can tell that they really care about their students AND they really care about doing a good job. I love that! I am excited about the rest of the workshop!