Vol. 3, No. 5


1. First Hand Learning Launches Day-long Workshops to Implement Outdoor Inquiries™

2. Buffalo Public Schools Receive a Math Science Partnership Grant: FHL Will Partner to Improve Science in the District

3. NSTA is in Boston and FHL Will be There

We know many of you are gearing up for the school year ahead. At First Hand Learning, we are excited about the programs and partnerships we’ll be involved in during the coming months. Here are some highlights:


Would you like to make science inquiry an engaging and site-specific experience for students, but need practical suggestions for how to use a school’s outdoor environment to do it? If so, consider attending one of the eight, day-long, teacher professional development workshops on Outdoor Inquiries™ that First Hand Learning (FHL) will be offering this school year.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, Outdoor Inquiries™ offers specific strategies for teaching and learning using the local environment, for implementing inquiry-based science, and for linking science inquiry and literacy. Participants will have opportunities to experience the strategies firsthand and will receive standards-based lesson plans to help them begin exploring the outdoors with their students, as well as stipends for attending.

These professional development opportunities support the recent publication of FHL’s new book, “Outdoor Inquiries: Taking Learning Outside the Classroom,” issued by Heinemann:

The eight workshops will take place at sites around the country. There are still a few locations to be determined. Contact First Hand Learning at if you are interested in hosting a workshop.

Keep an eye out for more details in future editions of this newsletter or check our website,,for more information.


The New York State Department of Education recently announced the 2007-2008 recipients of its Math Science Partnership (MSP) Grant Program, which is intended to increase academic achievement of students in mathematics and science. The Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) was pleased to receive both a Math Focus and a Science Focus MSP grant.

The BPS will use its Science Focus award of $2.4 million over the course of the next three years to build the capacity of teachers to provide “rigorous, scientifically-based instruction and use engaging, relevant teaching methods.” Sixty hours of professional development must be delivered to a minimum of 200 teachers for each of the three years.

Clarann K. Josef, Director of Science for the BPS, said that the overall goal was to help more teachers become highly qualified. To accomplish this the district would partner with local organizations such as Buffalo State College, local PBS affiliate WNED-TV, and the Buffalo Zoo. Professional development, for instance, will prepare high school level teachers to teach more demanding science in advance of offering AP science courses in all Buffalo high schools for the first time.

First Hand Learning will be a key partner in the MSP effort. Ms. Josef said, “We need to know how to teach using inquiry! It’s a big word… and one of the things FHL has expertise in is inquiry-based instruction.” The grant funds will also allow for the revitalization of the inquiry- and kit-based program FHL helps to administer called BPS TEAM Science. “Bringing back what TEAM was – it’s exciting,” commented Ms. Josef. “We want to include a stronger literacy component and do some podcasting to provide extra support for teachers online.”

In the coming year First Hand Learning will help lead teacher professional development workshops for Buffalo teachers, from kit-based workshops to in-depth content modules presented jointly by practicing teachers and local scientists. FHL will also continue to manage the district’s Science Materials Center and work with individual schools to take advantage of their outdoor learning spaces.

For more information on the MSP grant and the Buffalo Public Schools, visit


For the past several years First Hand Learning has been one of a select group of educational organizations presenting professional development institutes (PDIs) at NSTA’s national conference. This year the annual spring meeting will be in Boston and FHL will once again offer a day-long, in-depth workshop for teachers.

Focused on integrating science inquiry and literacy using the outdoors, this PDI will be hosted by the Boston Nature Center run by Massachusetts Audubon. Check out the Center at:

Presenters will include Dr. E. Wendy Saul from the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Mark Baldwin from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, and Diane Miller from the St. Louis Science Center, as well as FHL staff. Leaders of the Boston Schoolyards Collaborative, a group dedicated to improving local schoolyards for learning, will also participate. See

Visit or in the coming months for specific information about the PDI and instructions on how to register.

The three programs highlighted here are just some of the projects we will be engaged with this year. Visit our website,, to learn more about FHL's work, including the development of afterschool science programming through Project ASK and Science Firsthand.


Receive a free copy of FHL’S OUTDOOR INQUIRIES book or a colorful animal poster when you purchase a classroom set of First Hand Learning® field journals by January 15, 2008!

Go to
to learn how.


We hope you found this edition of the FIRSTHAND E-NEWSLETTER informative. Please contact us with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have by emailing us at:

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