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KU scientists create new environmental video series for kids

Thursday, December 03, 2020

LAWRENCE – University of Kansas scientists are creating a new monthly series of environmental videos for elementary students, made available on Facebook and YouTube for use by teachers and parents. The videos meet K-12 Kansas Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and come in both English and Spanish language versions.

The first two videos have been posted, and the third video will be released today, Dec. 3. Subsequent videos will be released on the first Thursday of the month through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

The project is led by research scientist Peggy Schultz, a researcher at the Kansas Biological Survey, which is a KU designated research center, and a faculty member in KU’s Environmental Studies Program. The videos are part of the outreach component of a larger $20 million National Science Foundation-funded project known as MAPS: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas. The overall grant project, which runs from 2017 to 2022, involves five Kansas universities and is based at KU.

“Our group of researchers, including KU students, has been working with elementary students for three years, going into classrooms with hands-on lessons,” Schultz said. “But when COVID hit, we had to shift gears quickly and look for new opportunities. By moving to a video format, we hope to reach many more students now, across the state and beyond.” 

The videos are being developed for third-grade classrooms but are available publicly so that anyone working with elementary students, particularly in a remote-teaching situation, can use them in lessons. They cover topics such as biomes, different levels of the food web, life cycles, natural selection, and plant and animal adaptations. Some will explore research from the KU community and specific examples of local ecosystems.

The project involves several KU partners, including the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Institute. The videos, as they are released, will first be posted on the museum’s Facebook page, then uploaded to the Kansas Biological Survey’s YouTube channel, under the “Ecosystems of Kansas: Lessons in Ecology” playlist, where they will remain for viewing.

The MAPS project is based at the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) office at KU. Project partners for the new videos include the KU Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum, the Kansas Biological Survey, the KU Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the KU Environmental Studies Program.

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