This award supports a U.S.-Japan teacher workshop and other activities designed to capitalize on a unique opportunity for science education by adapting a successful NSF-funded science documentary film, RiverWebs, for use in junior high and high school classrooms. RiverWebs is a unique science documentary about the natural history of stream ecosystems, exploring the interconnections between the stream and forest food webs and unveiling the process of discovery and human stories behind ecological research. The film also chronicles the life and work of Dr. Shigeru Nakano of Kyoto University, whose seminal work on stream-forest food web connections in Japan drew the attention of the best U.S. ecologists before his tragic death in a research accident in March 2000.
A main goal of the project is to engage an advisory committee of U.S. science teachers directly in the film making process. The project plans to 1) consult with them on key objectives for the classroom version, 2) engage them in a field trip to see important elements of stream ecology first hand, 3) garner their input to align the film with national science teaching standards, 4) ask for their review of scripts and rough cuts, 5) gain their help in arranging test screenings in real classrooms, and 6) ask their advice on the best methods and venues for disseminating the final product. Second, the project plan a U.S.-Japan Science Teacher Exchange during summer 2009 at the Lake Biwa Museum near Kyoto to interact with a similar team of Japanese science teachers who are advising us on a Japanese language version of the film. The goal is to create a highly affordable DVD package ($10-20) that will be available through Freshwaters Illustrated. The dissemination plan to ensure a broad impact for materials includes: 1) promoting it through presentations at the National Science Teachers Association national meeting and other similar groups, 2) advertising it in professional publications and newsletters from these groups, and 3) donating every fifth copy to under-resourced schools in inner city and rural areas to reach under-represented and disadvantaged students.