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School of Education, Leetown Science Center create unique teaching internship opportunity

ISSUED: 18 June 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University and Leetown Science Center (LSC) in Kearneysville have teamed up to show there is more to teaching than in the traditional K-12 classroom. The center, a division of the U.S. Geological Survey, focuses on determining the status, trends, and threats to the nation’s biological resources and provides the information required for wise stewardship of natural resources on public lands.

LSC offers educational tours for students and other organizations, but the tours had become so popular that it’s been hard for Dr. Dorothy Fontaine, education outreach coordinator, to keep up. When groups take tours, scientists need to be on hand helping supervise and conducting experiential learning activities. Because the tours take time away from research, fewer groups could be accommodated. Shepherd’s School of Education has entered into an agreement that gives Shepherd education students the opportunity to intern at LSC observing and assisting during tours.

Recent graduate John Veltman of Inwood is the first student to intern at LSC. With Veltman contributing, Fontaine put together enough qualified people to write curriculum for field trip visits and to test-run a weeklong middle school science day camp this summer.

“John contributed about two thirds of the entries to an overview chart for high school teachers, making him invaluable to this piloted project,” Fontaine said. “Both Shepherd University and Leetown Science Center benefited from this community hands-on joint partnership project, highlighting the cutting-edge science being done in Shepherd’s neighborhood while nurturing a diversity of talents in the School of Education.”

Due to COVID-19, the day camp had to be postponed, but Veltman and Fontaine have been working together remotely on activities, handouts, and a WebQuest to engage students and teachers online.

“My time with the USGS was not only informative, but entertaining,” Veltman said. “The exploration of new ideas was a welcome distraction from schoolwork and helped me build more universal skills. This internship proved to be more than just developing skills as a scientist

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