Local News

Chapel Hill teacher to lead lesson from Louisiana swamps

Posted April 16, 2009 8:45 a.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2009 8:55 a.m. EDT

— Estes Hills Elementary School teacher Liz Coleman will be more than 800 miles away from her class next week, but she still expects her students to pay attention to her.

The fourth grade teacher planned to leave Friday for Slidell, La., to be part of a research team of scientists and volunteers collecting data and seeking answers to questions about climate change.

Thanks to satellite and Internet technology, Coleman’s students will get an interactive lesson about her project.

“When I’m sitting there in the swamps of Louisiana, I want them to feel like they’re in the swamps of Louisiana doing the research with me and becoming scientists, in a sense,” she said.

Coleman plans to teach live from the field through a Web cast and her daily blog, which will include pictures and video. Her lesson will focus on caterpillars and what they can tell us about climate change and ecology.

“I’ve already learned about the different ways caterpillars protect themselves,” said student Ellie Cohn.

Coleman says the trip is a great way to take learning beyond the classroom walls.

“The students, they’re seeing science in a real way, in real life,” she said.

The students said they can’t wait to see what their teacher discovers in the swamps.

“It’s important to be interactive, because you get to learn a lot of stuff and usually have fun while you’re doing all this stuff,” said student Amy Smith.

Coleman will be away for seven days as part of an educator fellowship sponsored by Earthwatch Institute. Estes Hills Elementary is giving her professional development credit.