Okaloosa SCIENCE is a capacity building initiative designed to enhance STEM education for Okaloosa county school children by incorporating resources from national and local partners and using the local environment as a basis for teaching scientific concepts and standards.  Because our project flows from the Okaloosa community into the schools, and vice versa, community partners play a key role in the success of the project.  The following is some brief information on how community partners can get involved.  For more information, or if your organization or company is interested in participating in Okaloosa SCIENCE, please contact the Okaloosa SCIENCE team at:  okaloosa.science@yahoo.com.

Service Learning Opportunities:

The Initiative seeks to offer service learning opportunities for students and their families.  Service learning provides a pathway for students to apply their knowledge and skills in a way that benefits both the local community and environment.  Okaloosa SCIENCE-related service learning opportunities focus on conservation as a theme (e.g., projects should help to preserve, protect, or restore the natural environment, ecosystems, vegetation and/or wildlife).  In addition to traditional programs, we are also looking for unique and creative opportunities to address conservation in the Okaloosa area.  Think outside the box and share some of your ideas with us!  If your organization or company is interested in providing or sponsoring a service learning opportunity for students and/or their families, please contact us.

Field Experience Opportunities:

A core objective of Okaloosa SCIENCE is to actively involve students and educators in field experiences outside the classroom. We purposely call these field “experiences” instead of field “trips,” because we seek to immerse students in experiential learning activities which provide hands-on opportunities to make real-world connections to STEM-related concepts/educational standards.  Please keep in mind, we are not only looking for field experience opportunities during the school day, but after-school and weekend opportunities as well.  If your organization or company is interested in providing a STEM-based field experience, please contact us at:  okaloosa.science@yahoo.com

Classroom Presentations:

We are looking for community volunteers interested in visiting classrooms and/or after school clubs and sharing their STEM-related experiences and/or expertise with students.  This is an excellent opportunity to broaden a student's mind and get them excited about STEM-related careers.  We have a particular need for minority representation.  Volunteers can choose their own level of participation, subject matter and target audiences.  Volunteers should be comfortable working with children and be able to clearly relate concepts in terms children will understand.  The Okaloosa SCIENCE team is pleased to work with community volunteers to help prepare them for working with students.  To learn more, please contact us!

Science nights:

Does your organization or company have some really fun science-based hands-on activities to work with students on?  Can you spare a few hours one or two evenings during the school year?  Then you are perfect to help out at Science Nights!  Some Okaloosa schools hold science nights where they invite community partners to provide hands-on educational activities to students and their families.  These exciting events are a perfect way to spend a few hours educating children in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.  It's also great publicity for your organization/company!

Professional Development:

We are looking for experts in STEM-related subject areas to help facilitate professional development workshops for educators and/or community partners.  Prior experience working with teachers is not required.  We will assist in preparing and implementing professional development workshops to ensure target audiences and facilitators receive the maximum benefits possible.  As part of Okaloosa SCIENCE, we offer monthly professional development workshops to educators throughout the school year.  In addition, we seek to host professional development workshops on weekends and over the summer as well.  If you are interested in helping to facilitate a professional development workshop, please let us know!

BioBlitz Support:

A BioBlitz is an inventory of species that live in a defined area identified during a set time period.  BioBlitzes provide an excellent opportunity for students to work with scientists and other professionals in collecting data and using it to study organisms that live in the area.  They are a great way to make new friends and learn more about the natural world around you!  We are looking for experts who can help us identify plant and animal species during both school  and community-based BioBlitzes.  For more information on BioBlitzes, please go to our BioBlitz project page.  If you are interested in participating in a BioBlitz, please contact us.

Have other ideas on how you can get involved in Okaloosa SCIENCE?  Let us know!  Thanks for your support and we look forward to working with you!