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Contaminated Scene Investigator (CSI). A Proposed Environmental Education Program. December, 2004 Presented by: Carol A. Pollio. Background. The Contaminated Scene Investigator (CSI) Program was conceived to educate high school age students about:

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Contaminated Scene Investigator (CSI)

A Proposed Environmental Education Program

December, 2004

Presented by:

Carol A. Pollio


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Background

  • The Contaminated Scene Investigator (CSI) Program was conceived to educate high school age students about:

    • The hazards of contaminants (chemical pollutants) in the environment

    • The effect of contaminants on fish, wildlife, and other natural resources

    • Laboratory methods needed to identify contaminants,

    • Investigative procedures involved in identifying sources of contaminants.

      And, to inform students about career choices, like the USFWS, where they would utilize the same skills sets and knowledge presented in the CSI program.


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Program Description

The CSI Program will combine environmental lessons in the classroom with an intensive field experience. Students will participate in both intellectual exercises, such as report writing, research, and knowledge testing, as well as hands-on exercises, such as field sampling and laboratory analysis. Further, subjects such as math, science (chemistry, environmental science), english composition, and behavioral science will be integrated within this program.


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Program Description

  • The CSI Program will teach students how to:

    • Recognize a potentially contaminated site

    • Develop a sampling plan to verify contamination and identify specific contaminants

    • Collect and store samples

    • Perform laboratory techniques to analyze field samples

    • Analyze and report data/findings, and

    • Communicate the significance of those findings to others.


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Program Description

  • The CSI Program will introduce students to the following topics:

    • Environmental science as an interdisciplinary field

    • Chemical pollutants, sources and effects

    • Ecosystem, wildlife, and human health

    • Human behavior and its impact on the environment

    • Restoration of polluted/disturbed environments

    • Field Investigation Methods and Techniques

    • Careers in Environmental Science


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Purpose/Need for the Program

  • Environmental contaminants issues are complex and often not clearly understood by the public.

  • There is currently very little recognition by the public of the work done by the USFWS Contaminants Program.

  • The Contaminants Program is losing funding, yet its primary constituents, the American people, don’t know it exists, let alone its benefits.

  • Few college students are aware of this career field.

  • Even fewer under-represented groups (minorities, women) pursue this as a career.


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Purpose/Need for the Program

  • A small number of those that pursue science choose “field biology” – this program strongly emphasizes field techniques and assessment.

  • To direct more students toward environmental careers, this program targets the high school student when he or she is making critical career decisions.

  • Each student that gains an appreciation for the environment and the need to clean up environmental contaminants will increase the number of engaged and informed citizens at the local level.


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Goals of the CSI Program

  • To provide students with the awareness, appreciation, understanding, skills, and the necessary tools to address environmental issues.

  • To enable students to apply scientific methods and use critical thinking skills to identify chemical contamination and understand its effects on fish, wildlife and human populations.

  • To encourage creativity, flexibility, and innovation to resolve complex environmental problems and issues.


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Goals of the CSI Program

  • To inspire and empower students to become responsible participants in society.

  • To encourage students to pursue scientific career fields.

  • To communicate the mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and help students understand the role it plays in the remediation of contaminated sites.


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Program Objectives

After completion of the CSI Program:

  • Students will be able to state at least five impacts of chemical contamination on fish, wildlife and human populations.

  • 100% of high school students will be able to accurately record laboratory results on program data sheets.

  • Students will be able to discuss the career fields related to environmental contaminants cleanup and explain basic qualifications needed to enter those fields.

  • Students will accurately test three field samples using the available scientific equipment.


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Program Objectives

  • 75% of students will be able to describe the mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and explain how it relates to the remediation of contaminated sites.

  • 75% of students will be able to compare laboratory test results from the study site to EPA water quality standards in order to identify high levels of contamination.

  • 100% of students will agree that chemical pollutants that are improperly disposed of are a threat to healthy fish, wildlife, and human populations.

  • 80% of students will be able to visually recognize suspected contamination areas and use field testing equipment to confirm their observations of site conditions.


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CSI Program Content

  • Unit 1. What Are Contaminants?

  • Unit 2. What are their effects on the environment?

  • Unit 3. Introduction to Field Survey Techniques

  • Unit 4. Sampling Design and Methodology

  • Unit 5. Introduction to Laboratory Methods


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CSI Program Content

  • Unit 6. Data Collection and Analysis

  • Unit 7. Reporting Scientific Findings

  • Unit 8. Interpreting/Communicating the Results

  • Unit 9. Critical Thinking – The Remediation Plan: Choosing A Preferred Alternative

  • Unit 10. Careers in Environmental Science


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CSI Program Methods/Activities

  • Lecture and Interactive Assignments (Classroom)

  • Hands-On

    • Field sampling of soil and water

    • Laboratory analysis of samples

  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking:

    • Creating a Sampling Plan

    • Selecting Site Remediation Alternatives

  • Use of Technology: Web site development for the project, video production of site “story,” digital photographs to document program activities


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CSI Program Methods/Activities

  • Synthesis: Presentation of findings to an audience

  • Experiential: Field Trip to a local facility to meet professional Environmental Scientists

  • Writing Skills: Field Reports, Data Analysis/Report, Writing a Local News Story

  • Research: Investigating careers, internet research for contaminants and EPA standards, preparing background info for field reports and for formal presentations.


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Target Audience

The target audience for CSI is high school environmental science students.

High school students:

  • Need more in-depth topic exploration

  • Require meaningful, real world experiences

  • Require more challenging critical thinking exercises

  • Need some autonomy in exploring areas that pique their interest and support to do so

  • Will avoid situations where they can be subjected to ridicule or embarrassment

  • Will lose interest if instructor is not engaging and knowledgeable on the topic


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Target Audience

Urban high school students respond to the three R’s:

  • Relationships

    • Teachers take an interest in student’s lives and use their real-world experience to build their knowledge

  • Rigor

    • Rigorous, meaningful instruction

  • Relevance

    • Teachers must show the connections between lessons taught in school and long-term career plans

      From “Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students' Motivation to Learn” National Research Council and Institute of Management Committee on Increasing High School Students' Engagement and Motivation to Learn, National Research Council (National Academy Press, 2004)


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Target Audience Recruitment Plan

  • Target under-represented groups (minority, low income)

  • Identify urban and suburban communities with real world contaminants issues

  • Distribute flyers to schools w/in targeted communities

  • Develop a presentation to market (and present) to community groups

  • Develop a web site for the program

  • Conduct Teacher Workshops in target communities

  • Consider a school grant program, similar to “Schoolyard Habitats” to encourage participation


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Expected Outcomes – Short Term

  • Increased knowledge of environmental contaminants, laboratory procedures, and chemistry

  • Understanding how a scientist relies upon laboratory data

  • Understanding of the forensic value of accurate data

  • Increased knowledge of biological and environmental careers

  • Knowledge of laboratory equipment and how it is used

  • Increased awareness of visual cues that indicate contamination and/or disturbance in a natural area.


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Expected Outcomes – Mid-Term

  • Gain experience collecting and analyzing field data

  • Ability to synthesize complex data and draw solid conclusions

  • Implement laboratory quality assurance/quality control techniques

  • Implement forensic and investigative techniques

  • Independently perform field collection techniques

  • Independently design an experiment

  • Gain hands-on experience conducting laboratory techniques

  • Knowledge of USFWS role in cleanup of contaminants – leading to social awareness and action


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Expected Outcomes – Long Term

  • Gain in understanding of the inter-connectedness of human actions and their impact on the environment

  • Citizen support for environmental programs/activism

  • Improved Scores on Standards of Learning tests

  • Understand the importance of accuracy in reporting scientific data and how critical this is for environmental issues to be taken seriously


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Expected Outcomes – Long Term

  • Increased student interest in more difficult science courses

  • Improved reasoning and investigative skills

  • Consideration of USFWS as a career option

  • Acknowledgement of environmental crime scene investigation as a critical part of reducing contaminants in the environment.


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Evaluation Plan Overview

Measures of Program Success

  • Contributes to environmental knowledge and understanding

  • Meets stated goals, objectives and outcomes

  • Uses resources effectively and wisely

  • Addresses identified needs

  • Unanticipated outcomes captured and assessed

  • Knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations, and changes in behavior of participants captured in evaluation.



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Evaluation Plan - Methods

  • Method:

    1) Questionnaire

    • Students will be asked to fill out questionnaires at the beginning and again at the end of the program. Questions will measure knowledge level, attitudes, skills and behaviors as they relate to environmental contamination and restoration concepts. 

    • Success will be measured by the percentage increase of positive responses to questions.  An increase in positive responses will indicate an increased awareness of environmental contaminants issues and careers. 

    • Increased awareness will result in students becoming more interested in participation in environmental issues at the local level, in pursuing more difficult science courses, and in an environmental career field.


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Evaluation Plan - Methods

  • Questionnaire – Sample Knowledge, Attitude, and Skills Questions

    • Describe the USFWS role in environmental contaminants remediation

    • List 5 impacts of chemical contamination on fish, wildlife and human populations

    • Rate your ability to compare laboratory results to USEPA water quality standards (Likert Scale)

    • Rate your ability to accurately report scientific results (Likert Scale)

    • List 3 environmental careers you learned about in CSI.

    • Describe your success accurately testing laboratory samples (Likert Scale)

    • Rate your ability to visually identify/recognize suspected contamination areas and use field equipment to confirm their observations (Likert Scale)


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Evaluation Plan - Methods

  • Questionnaire – Sample Behavior, Social Action, and Decision Questions

    • Rate your interest in pursuing a career in environmental science (Likert Scale)

    • Rate your interest in pursuing a career in the USFWS (Likert Scale)

    • Rate the likelihood that you will pursue more difficult science courses (Likert Scale)

    • Rate your level of interest in current environmental issues in the news (Likert Scale)

    • Actions: (Responses will indicate # of times student performed these actions)

      • Participated in or joined an environmental interest group.

      • Participated in an environmental activity (e.g., a cleanup, protest, program).

      • Discussed important environmental issues with friends or family.

      • Researched environmental or science careers.


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Evaluation Plan - Methods

  • Method:

    2) Focus Groups

    • Program effectiveness will be evaluated with focus groups of educators from classes that have participated in CSI.

    • Success will be measured by the percentage of educators that find the program:

      • fills a need at the high school level and is unique,

      • is appropriate for the target audience, and

      • is recommended to continue (has value for educators).


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Evaluation Plan - Methods

2) Focus Group Sample Questions

  • 1. Does the program fill a need/void in the high school curriculum?

  • 2. Do you think that the goals and objectives address/represent what you feel is most important about these issues? Are any missing?

  • What do you think of the classroom activities?

  • What do you think of the laboratory activities?

  • 5. What would you add to or remove from the program?

  • Are program materials appropriate for the target audience?

  • Would you recommend continuing the program in your school?




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Cost Sharing Opportunities

To implement the pilot program and to expand the program in future years, the following partners will be approached to provide funding (and human resources, as appropriate):

  • Partner Agencies and NGOs: EPA, National Park Service, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, National Wildlife Federation.

  • Internal Partners: National Wildlife Refuge System, Partners for Fish and Wildlife.

  • Grants: National Science Foundation, Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Cost-Share Challenge Grant, EPA Environmental Education Grant Program


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Summary: Program Benefits

  • Increased awareness of environmental contaminants issues among students

  • Increased awareness of federal careers in environmental science within under-represented populations

  • Increased awareness of and support for the USFWS Contaminants Program

  • Increased opportunities for Media promotion of CSI school activities (increased visibility for Contaminants Program)

  • Increased opportunity to communicate the USFWS mission and our accomplishments to the American people


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Recommendations

  • Implement pilot CSI program in local school system.

  • Conduct evaluation and develop report.

  • Share results with partners and stakeholders.

  • Collaborate on results and decision-making.


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Recommendations

  • Evaluate input (from report and partners/ stakeholders).

  • If positive, implement on a broader scale.

  • If improvements needed, re-visit and

    1) make improvements, or

    2) terminate program.

  • Use evaluation report to obtain additional funding and human resources to expand program.



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