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Contact: Maureen McGee-Ballinger, 605-574-3115
National Park Service Helps Teachers Make Learning Fun & Relevant
Interior, S.D. - Teachers across South Dakota have a new tool to help them engage their students in classroom and place-based learning.
Today the National Park Service (NPS) launched a new online service for teachers that brings America’s national parks into neighborhood classrooms. The new “Teachers” section 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.
“South Dakota National Parks have long welcomed area students to the parks for field trips,” said Eric J. Brunnemann, superintendent of Badlands National Park. “And now, through the new ‘Teachers’ National Park Service website, all 401 national parks are throwing open their doors and providing teachers, students, and the public access to our educational services. For example, students can learn about literature using a lesson plan from Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, borrow a traveling trunk from Lava Beds National Monument, chat online with a ranger at the Grand Canyon National Park, or visit Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park.”
South Dakota national parks provide multiple opportunities for teachers and students to explore habitat, wildlife, and history through distance learning, videos, and lesson plans. Badlands National Park, for example, features opportunities for live interactive video conferences in which students connect to the park and talk with park rangers. Additional curriculum materials, such as lesson plans, video segments, and park photos, are also available to enhance classroom learning.
The new online service links educators to Teaching with Historic Places where they can examine Cold War issues with Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. One of the few sites in the country that transports students into an indepth exploration of the escalation of the Cold War and development of the Minuteman Missile system.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial offers a myriad of lesson plans from Kindergarten through High School. Students and teachers have the opportunity to explore Mount Rushmore with subcentimeter accuracy through digital connections.
Wind Cave National Park offers students and teachers the opportunity to explore the world of caves and the formations found within them. These hands-on activities include the making of crystals, fossils, and rock layers.
The 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 and educational institutions 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.To learn more about the National Park Service’s education programs, visit www.nps.gov/teachers. For more information about national parks in South Dakota and how the National Park Service works with communities to preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide local recreation opportunities, go to www.nps.gov/SouthDakota.