SC Life Program
Clemson University Press Release 12/16/99
SC Life Program
CONTACT: Barbara J. Speziale, (864) 656-1550
WRITER: Debbie Dalhouse, (864) 656-0937
CLEMSON PROVIDES TEACHER TRAINING FOR ADVANCED SCIENCE COURSES
CLEMSON -- With the growing emphasis on science education in South Carolina's public schools, there is a corresponding need to provide science teachers with information to teach effectively. To this end, Clemson University is offering graduate level courses during the summer for life sciences teachers in middle and high schools.
The summer courses are part of SC Life, a program developed by Clemson to enhance biology instruction through hands-on activities and field trips.
Two of the summer courses, "Natural History of the Piedmont and Mountain Regions of South Carolina" and "Natural History of Coastal South Carolina," were discussed at the recent S.C. Science Council, a statewide conference for science teachers in secondary schools.
High school teachers Nelle Stephenson from Georgetown and Randy Newton from Belton-Honea Path joined Clemson faculty Edward Pivorun, Edward Ruppert and Barbara Speziale to describe the courses to a standing-room only audience at the conference.
"The course rejuvenated my spirits and enthusiasm for teaching. That enthusiasm has carried over into the classroom," said Stephenson, a Georgetown High School teacher who participated in the coastal course last summer.
Ruppert, a Clemson biological sciences professor, headed the faculty team that presented the coastal course. Nationally known for his books, Seashore Animals of the Southeast and Invertebrate Zoology, Ruppert said, "The SC Life program lets us use South Carolina's spectacular biodiversity to teach biological concepts in our middle and high schools."
The coastal program was conducted at Clemson's Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science and the Baruch Marine Field Laboratory in Georgetown. Participants lived at the institute and worked at the laboratory, studying local plants, birds, marine invertebrates and insects as they explored the sand dunes, coastal marshes and beaches.
As a result of the course, Stephenson's students now take monthly beach profiles to study seasonal changes and make "shrimp sandwiches" using microscope slides to view how living animals forage and feed.
Participants in the piedmont and mountains course lived on the Clemson University campus and explored the Upstate piedmont area and the mountains of North and South Carolina. Field trips included whitewater streams, cove forests and mountain balds.
Pivorun, a Clemson biological sciences professor, was on the faculty team that presented the piedmont and mountains course. He is developing a field guide of rodent, insectivore and amphibian species found in South Carolina and working with the Smoky Mountains National Park All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory program.
"Most people don't know that the greatest vertebrate biomass in the South Carolina piedmont and mountains is found in the diversity of the salamander species," Pivorun said.
The SC Life courses combine the knowledge of plant and animal experts to make participants more keenly aware of the rich biodiversity in South Carolina and the interactions between animal and plant life.
Newton, a science teacher at Belton-Honea Path High School, described the result of this cooperation as "one of the best courses I've ever taken. I was most impressed that the Clemson faculty were so accessible throughout the course."
"These two courses provide an opportunity for Clemson biologists to help middle and high school teachers become better observers and interpreters of nature. We hope this will enhance the ability of teachers to communicate science to their students," said Timothy Spira, associate professor of biological sciences.
Applications are now being taken for SC Life Summer 2000 courses for teachers. Teachers earn graduate credit in biological sciences for taking the courses, then share information on how they translate what they learned into classroom teaching practices. Alumni of the summer courses may also apply to engage in field and laboratory research projects under the direction of Clemson faculty.
The SC Life project is supported by a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program.
To apply for the summer courses or for more information on
SC Life activities, call Clemson University at (864)
656-4224 or visit the web site at