Friday, March 11, 2016
For Immediate Release
Teacher Spotlight: Tina Ciarametaro, Ipswich Middle School
Connecting Climate Change Research in the Arctic to the Ipswich Classroom and Community
Ipswich Middle School science teacher Tina Ciarametaro has quite the story to tell. In August 2014, Tina joined a twenty-four-day expedition in Greenland to study glacier melt as part of a PolarTREC research project. As part of the project, she kept an online journal where she writes:
“I have flown in a helicopter to go ice cap hopping for vegetation samples, I have hiked on glaciers, I have hiked up and down the steepest hill (a glacial moraine) that I have ever been on, helping carry down an inflatable boat. I have driven a boat on an ancient glacial lake mapping the bottom and taking sediment cores and I have slept on rocks that are over 2.5 billion years old. And to think, I have only been out in the field 2 days.”
Today she says, “I walked in places on this planet no other human has been to before. It was profound and life changing.” Invigorated by her experience in Greenland, Ciarametaro began looking for ways to connect her take-aways from the expedition to climate change research here in New England. That’s when she same across the Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS) and found the MITS Summer Professional Development Institutes were a perfect fit.
In 2015, Ciarametaro attended MITS’ North Shore Institute, Research and Resiliency: Exploring the Ways Our Local Ecosystems are Responding to Climate Change. She was excited to find an opportunity to connect with local scientists and to learn about climate change research that was happening in her school’s own backyard. By the end of the one-week institute, Ciarametaro found what she was looking for and so much more: new resources for her curriculum, tools for connecting her students to field research, and a passion for inquiry science education.
Since returning from Greenland, Ms. Ciarametaro has worked hard to translate her profound Arctic experience to activities in her Ipswich classroom. She doesn’t want her students to feel that the research she conducted with PolarTREC is isolated from what they experience in their own lives; they, too, can participate in science. She’s used a core component of MITS’ Institutes, Science Notebooks, to aid in this process.
Within these notebooks, students record data they collect in the classroom, write observations and develop their own research questions. “[These notebooks] are exactly what researchers do,” she tells them. “This is what drives research.” She’s found that by giving students ownership to explore the world around them and pursue their own scientific interests, they are much more engaged in the scientific process. “The kids are so excited that they are getting a taste what science and research is like in the field,” she says.
After her experience in the MITS Summer Professional Development Institute, Tina reworked the 7th grade science curriculum at Ipswich Middle School to embrace the inquiry approach to scientific investigation. “As a veteran teacher, I find the inquiry approach invigorating and exciting”, she says. “I think that piece of the science process is missing in schools, for a number of reasons – time, working to meet standards – all those parameters. But I think in the long run, you get further if you allow kids to question and ask and explore.”
One of Ms. Ciarametaro’s goals as an educator is to help students recognize that science is happening all around them — all the time. To emphasize this concept, Ciarametaro uses household items in her classroom experiments. She describes one activity where students were given string, two beakers of water and asked to figure out how to make water travel. She loves that these types of experiments can be so simple in their execution, yet yield complex and profound learning outcomes. “We did that experiment three months ago,” she says, “and they’re still using that today. That’s the beauty of the inquiry experience; they always go back to it.”
In addition to teaching science at Ipswich Middle School, Ms. Ciarametaro is also the coordinator for the annual 7th grade canoe trip. The overarching goal of the trip is for the students to develop a vested interest in the sustainability of the natural world around them. Though the trip is still in early stages of development, Ciarametaro ultimately plans to connect students to local researchers who are conducting studies on the Ipswich River watershed. She’ll be working with MITS partners, Mass Audubon’s Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ipswich River Watershed Association, to achieve this goal.
Overall, Tina found the MITS Summer Professional Development Institute to be a rewarding opportunity to engage in local climate change research, network with fellow educators and scientists, and build on her teaching skills. As a teacher of twenty-six years, Ciarametaro is a valuable asset to the Ipswich Middle School community and is a shining example of the fantastic educators Massachusetts has to offer.
Middle and High School teachers have the opportunity to participate in this course again this a summer. For more information about the 2016 Research and Resiliency: How is Science Contributing to Enhancing Habitats and Responding to Global Change course, contact Liz Duff at 781-392-6507 or visit our North Shore Region page. MITS is a not-for-profit corporation that collaborates with formal and informal education institutions to provide STEM professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and non-profit organizations across Massachusetts. Program offerings include week-long graduate level Summer Professional Development Institutes, day-long Professional Development Seminars and Customized School Services. For more information, visit www.mits.org.