Clay Virtual Academy teacher selected to attend research lab program

Mary Maddox will share ideas to enhance science projects in classroom

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CLAY COUNTY — A Clay Virtual Academy science teacher will be attending a virtual research lab experience next week alongside teachers from 10 other counties.

Mary Maddox from CVA will join 40 other teachers virtually from July 6-10 to participate in a professional development workshop that will see each teacher paired with a different scientist. The scientist and teacher will work together on a number of different lab projects in an effort to learn new things in the science world, but to give them first hand material to take back to the classroom.

“Students are always saying things like, ‘When we will ever actually use this?’,” Maddox said. “This gives us a good way to answer that question because we can actually show them how they’ll use it. We can show them why what they’re learning is important.”

Maddox is excited for all of the science-related ideas she’ll learn at the virtual workshop, and she’s even more excited to integrate them into her classroom when the new school year starts. She said the most exciting aspect is that the scientist she works with during the virtual week will make appearances in her classroom throughout the year.

They’ll do different presentations in the classroom and help teachers implement lessons by showing students what they do, what things they’re researching, what projects they have going and more.

The virtual workshop comes by way of a partnership between the University of Florida and their Scientist in Every Florida School Program titled “The Nature of Science.” Maddox was selected from a pool of over 90 applicants after learning about the program through a Florida Association of Science Teachers conference in St. Johns County earlier this year.

“It was a three-day conference that Clay County paid for and it allowed all of us science teachers to go,” Maddox said “I picked up some information about [The Nature of Science] and decided to apply.”

Maddox said the workshop was originally planned on campus but because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop was shifted to a virtual format. She had to select a lab to work with and she chose the Tropical Research Education Center, which is a UF off-campus research station in Miami. What was supposed to be essentially an all-expenses-paid trip for a week-long science workshop became an entirely virtual week of research, but that isn’t taking away any of the excitement for Maddox: she still gets to collaborate with actual scientists in Florida and teachers from all over the state.

“It gives me an opportunity to see what other teachers are doing and it allows me to connect with teachers I likely would never meet otherwise,” Maddox said. “I’ll be learning about more than just science research. I’ll be learning new ways to make education in my classroom even more exciting.”

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