The University of Nebraska at Kearney was recently awarded two grants from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. These grants will be used by UNK Education Assistant Professor Susan Gallagher for her projects titled, “Online: Geography in My Classroom” and “GEON Corps of Rediscovery.”

Gallagher’s projects will provide K-12 teachers with geography education instruction and resources. “Online: Geography in My Classroom” instructs first-time geography teachers in standards-based geography content. “GEON Corps of Rediscovery” supplies educators with student resources for teaching about the historical geography of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

“Online: Geography in My Classroom” will create an online geography course for teacher training. According to Gallagher, “The project will develop online, interactive training and support programs for first-time geography teachers.”

The project uses a “guided practice” format. This format allows teachers to participate in the lesson while learning the content. Classroom materials to teach geography concepts will also be provided. Gallagher said, “The combination of lesson participation and materials allows teachers to walk-through the lesson as they would teach it in their classroom.”

The “GEON Corps of Rediscovery” project develops geography-educational resources in correlation with the soon to be released IMAX movie on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The project couples the Geography Educators of Nebraska organization with the Henry Doorly Zoo.

The project will generate geography classroom lessons for K-12 teachers. Gallagher said, “The lessons will be taught within the context of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Since the Zoo will retain a copy of the Lewis and Clark movie, these lessons will be available for continued use by Nebraska teachers.”

A zoo activity will also be created. The activity will use a trail map that connects animal exhibits at the zoo to locations chronicled by Lewis and Clark. The activity is expected to reach at least 23,000 students and 18,000 adults during the spring of 2002.

A web site following the format of the zoo activity is included in the project. According to Gallagher, “The web site will recreate the zoo activity online. This will allow more teachers across Iowa and Nebraska to participate in the resources provided by the Henry Doorly Zoo.”

Gallagher’s projects will directly benefit students at UNK. According to Gallagher, “These projects allow UNK students to participate in professional development experiences prior to entering the teaching profession.” The projects also offer opportunities for UNK students to work with teachers. “Students will collaborate with K-12 teachers. These opportunities will provide valuable experiences for students preparing to be teachers,” Gallagher said.

The two grants, totaling $131,000, were awarded from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. Their goal is to improve geography education. Projects focusing on technology use to improve geography education are of particular interest to the Foundation.