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FGCU partners with UF program connecting scientists, teachers and students

Despite coronavirus challenges, teachers and scientists are determined to connect students and experts, even from hundreds of miles away. That’s what an FGCU associate professor did after getting involved in a program through UF.

FGCU is working with UF through its “Scientist in Every Florida School” program, which is designed to connect scientists, teachers and students.

Although it’s not her typical group of students, Dr. Joanne Muller, a paleoclimatologist at FGCU, was able to share her knowledge with high school students in Gainesville from afar. Normally, the program looks to get scientists into classrooms, but the program connected Muller virtually to follow proper COVID-19 guidelines.

Dr. Jennifer Jones is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at FGCU with a Ph.D. in Environment and Society. She reached out to UF to have FGCU partner with the program.

“To create the next generation of scientists, they need mentors right,? Jones said. “They need to see what does it actually mean to be a scientist, what does it look like to do science.”

Muller explained some of the field research scientists are conducting around the world.

“Scientists have been going to Greenland and Antarctica and drilling into these ice sheets,” Muller explained.

Muller told us she looks at the long-distance sessions as an opportunity to divert the students’ attentions away from the immediate stressors caused by the pandemic.

“I’m hopeful it’ll just kind of like pull them out of this reality that we’re all in right now and let them just think about science and talk about science for a little bit and just have a little fun,” Muller said.

A student we spoke to was positive about the experience.

“I thought it to be really fun,” student Max Caldwell said. ”I don’t have much else to do at home, so it’s a really good use of my time.”

If you are a teacher or scientist who would like to get involved, click the link to the Florida Museum of Natural History website.

“It’s been challenging for everyone — parents, and teachers, and students,” teacher Leigh Larsen said. “Everybody’s learning together, and we’re all learning technology.”

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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