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Back to School with America's National Parks

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Date: September 12, 2013
Contact: Rebecca Talbott, 907-644-3371

[Anchorage] - Teachers across Alaska have a new tool to help them engage their students in classroom and place-based learning.

Today the National Park Service launched an online service for teachers that brings America’s national parks, including those spread across Alaska, into neighborhood classrooms. The new “Teachers” of the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/teachers provides a one-stop shop for curriculum-based lesson plans, traveling trunks, maps, activities, distance learning, and other resources. All of the materials draw from the spectacular natural landscapes and authentic places preserved in America’s national parks.

“Alaska’s national parks and our visitor centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks have long welcomed students on site,” said Sue Masica, the NPS regional director for Alaska. “But we know that parks are often a long distance from a student’s home. Now, through the new “Teachers” website, Alaska’s parks and their spectacular resources are a little closer for teachers and students to learn about America’s natural and cultural heritage.”

Alaska’s national park-based curriculum and other teacher resources are substantial and varied, and include:

Distance Learning: Glacier Bay National Park’s "Visiting Glacier Bay” provides an opportunity for a virtual visit to this Southeast Alaska gem.

Curriculum: Denali National Park’s "Denali Rocks!" focuses on geology and provides eight lessons matched to Alaska State Standards for 6th to 8th grade science. Denali also offers a short video detailing additional resource for teachers.

Aleutian WWII National Historic Site features "Attu: The North American Battleground of WWII."

Field Trips: Sitka National Historical Park offers a great field trip program titled "Traditional Cooking with a Bentwood Box." 

The national teachers site is searchable by location, keyword, and more than 125 subjects, from archeology, to biology, to constitutional law. Teachers will, for the first time, be able to rate NPS-provided content. In addition to park-created content, the site also features educational materials created by NPS national programs like the National Register of Historic Places and its award-winning Teaching with Historic Places series of 147 lesson plans.

The website is just one part of the National Park Service’s ongoing commitment to education. Every year, national parks offer more than 57,000 educational programs that serve nearly 3 million students in addition to 563,000 interpretive programs attended by 12.6 million visitors. The NPS is working with partners, including Alaska Geographic, to expand programs and encourage the use of parks as places of learning. The NPS has partnered with the Department of Education to integrate national park resources into core curriculums. Each summer, teachers across the country are hired to work in parks to develop curriculum-based programs based on park resources through the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program.

In addition to on-line offerings, Alaska’s national parks host more than 2.4 million visitors each year. Check out all of Alaska’s national park areas and regional programs.

Did You Know?

a moose with small antlers amid brush

Warmer average temperatures over several decades have resulted in expansion of woody vegetation. If this warming trend continues, it will change Alaska's ecosystems and drastically alter the physical appearance of Denali's landscape, as treeline marches higher up the mountains.