Applying the scientific method to caring for the Kenai

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2007

 

  KCHS science teacher Rick Frederic leads district wide in-service workshop for high school science teachers planning to participate in CFK 2008.

KCHS science teacher Rick Frederic leads district wide in-service workshop for high school science teachers planning to participate in CFK 2008.

For the last 17 years the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has participated in a unique community educational partnership known as Caring for the Kenai (CFK). A contest that challenges high school students to respond to the question, “What can I do, invent, create or improve to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula or to improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?” Over the years students have earned over $90,000 in cash awards for their efforts and $60,000 has been distributed to participating classrooms for educational supplies and technology, according to program officials. “This year we’re seeing the children of the kids we gave the CFK assignment to in the early years of the contest, so the next generation is coming through now and getting the assignment their parents dealt with 18 years ago,” said KCHS science teacher Rick Frederic, who was the first science teacher to utilize the program as a classroom assignment.

Frederic led a district wide in-service for science teachers last week that was sponsored by a CFK grant to the school district, “It’s a unique assignment and a lot of work for the teachers, but it hits many standards and that’s why we had the in-service. We had 8 teachers here from 5 of the major high schools in the district going over how to best get the curriculum out to the students and getting them involved in the contest. As a result over the years we’ve had students accomplishing remarkable projects in partnership with the community and some of those have been recognized in Washington D.C. by the President of the United States and appeared on programs like ABC’s Good Morning America. So it’s a powerful program that produces great results and connects students to the real world and what it looks like. It takes a lot of work and training for new teachers that come on board, but that’s what we hope we accomplished at the in-service today. Last year we saw some teachers who participated for the first time have students make into the finals, which I feel shows the effectiveness of the in-service,” said Frederic.

The 2008 program co-sponsored by Agrium and Chevron and administered by the Kenai Watershed Forum once again will offer over $6,000 in cash awards to the top 12 entries and with a matching grant from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA)divide $20,000 to participating classrooms. In addition ideas qualifying for the semi-finals will be eligible to be selected for nearly 40 awards ranging from college scholarships sponsored by KRSA to private recognition cash awards, fishing trips, plaques, and dinners with corporate officials. “It’s another way for the community to see the work their students are putting out and recognize them for it. It’s amazing how the kids respond to knowing that someone in the community saw their idea and appreciated it, and when they see some of the special classroom equipment their effort has produced for all the students it gives them a feeling of pride in what they’ve done. It all comes back to what happens in a district where this type of partnership receives such broad based community support year after year,” said Frederic.



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