Summer 2023 Course Information

Place-based Science for Educators

July 10 - 21
Online, with four synchronous sessions

Instructor: Mike Blouin, M.S.

Course Overview

Break down the walls of your science classroom!  This online course, designed for science educators of all age groups, provides in-depth strategies to engage students in the places they live as they study science content and skills.  Educators will learn to how to “read the landscape” in their local communities as they learn new species, ecological frameworks, and observational practices. 

Participants will come away with place-based science activities and assignments they can use with their students, newfound connections to a community of like-minded educators, and a robust plan to integrate place-based teaching into their practice.

This course can be taken on its own ($750), or for three graduate-level credits through Castleton University ($1185).  Scholarships are available for individuals; please note in your registration if you would like to learn more about that option.

You can see the full course syllabus here.

Course Goals

  • Build competence and confidence in understanding the species and ecologies of local natural landscapes.
  • Develop new observation and investigation practices you can use with your students to help them learn about local ecosystems.
  • Build strong relationships with other teachers interested in pursuing place-based teaching and learning with their students; learn from these fellow educators.
  • Develop a concrete and specific plan to integrate place-based teaching into your classroom or organization.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify at least six common New England tree, herbaceous plant, and/or bird species.
  • Understand how topography, substrate, and disturbance history influence natural communities.
  • Assess a chosen place using a “pieces, patterns, process” framework.
  • Use practices of sketching, photography, and question-asking to deepen their observational skills.
  • Articulate their place-based experiences and aspirations to fellow educators, and serve as effective sounding boards for one another.
  • Develop a detailed plan that will allow students to use at least one specific place to practice science skills or learn science content.
  • Use content learned in the course to generate specific and actionable ideas for one’s own teaching practice.


Module #1: Mon, July 10 – Tues, July 11

Theme: Introductions and Starting Place-based Science Investigations

Asynchronous work (readings, videos, site visits):  ~6 hours

Synchronous meeting (at end of module): Tues, July 11, 3:00 – 4:30PM, Zoom

Module #2: Weds, July 12 – Fri, July 14

Theme: Reading the Local Landscape

Asynchronous work (readings, videos, site visits):  ~6 hours

Synchronous meeting (at end of module): Fri, July 14, 3:00 – 4:30PM, Zoom

Module #3: Mon, July 17 –  Tues, July 18

Theme: Integrating Art and Science

Asynchronous work (readings, videos, site visits):  ~6 hours

Synchronous meeting (at end of module): Tues, July 18, 3:00 – 4:30PM, Zoom

Module #4: Weds, July 19 – Fri, July 21

Theme: Finalizing Your Place Plan

Asynchronous work (readings, videos, site visits):  ~6 hours

Synchronous meeting: Thurs, July 20, 3:00 – 4:30PM, Zoom

Readings and Resources

We will provide readings and resources as part of the course, and will provide a list of suggested materials that may be of interest to participants.  You do not need to purchase and books to participate.

Cancellation Policy

We understand that unexpected circumstances may arise.  If you need to cancel, please do so with as much advance notice as possible.  We cannot guarantee refunds for cancellations submitted within 14 days of the start of the course.