FSU Office of STEM Teaching Activities receives National Academies grant for developing and implementing marine food web curriculum

| Thu, 09/07/23

The Florida State University Office of STEM Teaching Activities, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine grant to implement an educational curriculum focused on exploring the biology and ecology of the Apalachee Bay watershed.

“A Watershed Event,” written by FSU biological science faculty members Ellen Granger, Barbara Shoplock, Todd Bevis, and Tom Miller, and Olivia Mason from the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, is designed for delivery in middle and high school biology, environmental science, and marine science classes in Leon, Wakulla, Taylor, Gadsden and Franklin counties. The curriculum can also be adapted for use nationally.

The curriculum centers on food webs and trophic interactions, and students learn about these by investigating harmful algal blooms as an anchoring phenomenon. The grant funds classroom testing and revision of the curriculum, professional development for teachers, and classroom excursions for students to the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab, or FSUCML, at Turkey Point in Franklin County, Florida.

“These blooms harm aquatic ecosystems where an excess of nutrients entering the system causes an organism, like algae, to overproduce,” Granger said. “When this happens, the balance of the food web can be disrupted to the point that the entire aquatic system can crash.”

In July, teachers from local middle and high schools were invited to FSUCML for professional development through hands-on experiences ahead of testing the curriculum in their classrooms during the 2023-2024 school year. Program testing will continue in the 2024-2025 academic year with additional teachers and their students participating.

To learn more about “A Watershed Event” and the professional development activities used to train educators on the curriculum, watch the video below.