Teachers will pull on boots to tromp through district wetlands and learn STEM teaching techniques at an Aug. 14-15 workshop in Reynoldsburg City Schools' yurts - the eco-learning labs on the Summit Road campus.

Teachers will pull on boots to tromp through district wetlands and learn STEM teaching techniques at an Aug. 14-15 workshop in Reynoldsburg City Schools' yurts - the eco-learning labs on the Summit Road campus.

The "Ins and Outs of Elementary STEM" will take place at the two circular classrooms located behind the eSTEM Academy, 8579 Summit Road.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Sponsored by the Educational Service Center (ESC) of Central Ohio, the workshops are designed to help teachers learn best practices for STEM teaching, said Dan Hoffman, director of the Ohio STEM Learning Network and former assistant superintendent of Reynoldsburg City Schools.

He said the Ohio STEM Learning Network is supported by Battelle.

Hoffman is also the district's K-12 STEM consultant and works with administrators in all of the high school academies.

"Our wetlands area is still a work in progress, but the workshops and yurts are an example of what we can do to spread environmental science opportunities and the teaching of best practices in STEM," Hoffman said.

Day one of the workshop will feature Bob Claymier, a local presenter on elementary STEM, who will help participants "understand the importance of integrating engineering design concepts into elementary science curriculum" as a problem-solving tool for students, Hoffman said.

Teachers are asked to "dress casual and bring boots or a second set of shoes" for day two, for the "outs" of elementary STEM, he said.

Hoffman said teachers will be mostly outside at the reclaimed wetlands area around the yurts.

Mark Dilley and his staff at MAD Scientist and Associations, based in Westerville, will lead teachers in learning to design lessons that use landscape and ecosystem features, focused on the earth, space and life science indicators, Hoffman said.

He said teachers will leave with lessons, handouts, hands-on activities and games to be used in an outdoor classroom.

The yurt eco-labs are a part of the $60-million construction of the high school and elementary buildings on the Summit Road campus, which opened last school year.

Hoffman said Dilley worked with the district before construction on the two buildings began.

"He walked the property and said we had the possibility of reclaiming wetlands in the back quarter," Hoffman said. "We had planned a baseball diamond there, but totally changed our plans based on his advice."

Dilley helped high school and elementary students from the Summit Road schools plant and clean up the wetlands last school year, and helped the school obtain more than $170,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency for that purpose.

He said the area includes a variety of different wetlands habitats, including an emergent marsh, a pond, a reforestation zone and vernal pools.

Dee Martindale, principal at Summit Road Elementary, whose "Green Team" students worked on the wetlands, said she will attend the workshop with her new teachers.

"I am looking forward to learning more about the science of our wetland area and how best to utilize it with our students to enhance learning," she said. "I also look forward to working with my new staff and watching their excitement as they learn about easy ways to engage students in design thinking."

Martindale said the more teachers get excited about teaching, the more students will be excited about learning.

"I encourage all of the staff at Summit to get creative with classroom space," she said. "As adults, we don't look forward to sitting at a desk all day long, so how can we expect 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds to want to do it?

"I think it is a great idea to utilize the yurts and wetlands for our session, to get teachers thinking differently about how we teach and even where we teach," she said. "Many teachers in our district are not aware of this great site."

Martindale said the yurts are well-equipped science laboratories that were built so that students could gather samples from the pond and wetlands area and take them inside for observations.

There are still a few openings available for the two-day workshop at http://bit.ly/ESC_STEM. Teachers may register to attend day one for $60; day two for $60 or both days for $100.

Registration questions should be sent to Sandy.Denney@escco.org and questions about the workshop sent to Hoffman at dhoffman@reyn.org.