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Informal Science

Traditional Ecological Wisdom in Your Ecosystem

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In this module, students will get an introduction to Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), the evolving knowledge acquired by indigenous peoples over thousands of years in direct contact with their environment. Students will start by assessing their existing awareness of the present-day and pre-colonial ecology of their hometown, and then conduct independent research to fill the gaps in their knowledge. 

Outdoor fieldwork identifying plant and animal life in our neighborhoods will complement an ecosystem mapping project, which will serve to ground students in their natural environment and spark curiosity about the past and future of their local ecosystems. Students who participate in this session will discover how they can draw on TEK today to become more engaged with nature and better equipped to protect it. 

Amanda Robin amanda robin 1395 Points

Thank you for sharing. I love how this can tie the science and social studies together. 

Hanna Schmitt Hanna Schmitt 380 Points

Hi Arlene,

I appreciate you sharing this resource! I am currently a third year at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA, majoring in Biology and Secondary Education with an All Science Endorsement. I am looking for new ideas that may be useful to me as a preservice teacher.

In 2019, I had an opportunity to travel to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest to work with indigenous people to learn about their interactions with the environment and shamanic traditions. I was made aware of the depth and value of their knowledge of the natural world. I believe this is an important topic to integrate into science classes today.

Although this program you shared is not currently being offered, do you have any advice for including TEK in an online classroom? Many educators are currently meeting new challenges with online and remote teaching. In your experience, how would you recommend that teachers get students outside and exploring the natural world even when they cannot meet in person? What benefits have you seen from involving your students in the natural world during science classes?

If any current or past teachers have input on this topic, please share!

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