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Waterfall Fire Project Makes Learning Materials Available for Area Science Teachers

Posted: August 6, 2010

A collaborative project between a Western Nevada College student and professor, and the Desert Research Institute will offer valuable learning resources to area science teachers.

Since June, Western Nevada College student Isabel “Sara” Flores has worked under the mentorship of WNC Professor Mike Sady and Dr. Jay Arnone of the Desert Research Institute to develop learning materials about climate change and the Waterfall Interpretive Trail. Her efforts have centered on the devastating Waterfall wildfire that burned in the hills west of Carson City and threatened WNC’s main campus in July 2004.

The project is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to make English and Spanish materials available for K-12 teachers. At a recent workshop, Flores presented her project findings to a group of Washoe County science teachers, and helped lead a tour through the burned area.

In her project, Flores looked at efforts to restore the landscape that was burned and addressed the question, “Why should I care?” She developed teaching materials that simplify the scientific terminology and research results and are relatable to young students and their families.

“I have created elements that speak in one voice in order to deliver a consistent and approachable message in English and Spanish,” Flores explained.

She said that she has learned much about how the actions of people impact the environment and cause climate change. “I have a new perspective of climate, the environment and forest fires, and I feel a responsibility to contribute to the community by sharing what I have learned,” she says.

Beginning this fall, teachers can access the learning materials online at Essays about climate change and wildfires, Spanish translations of scientific terms, interactive games, and videos are among the materials that will be available. For information, contact Mike Sady, 775-445-4400.