We asked applicants for the NCSE Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship to explain, in 500 words, what lessons or knowledge they expected to gain from rafting the Grand Canyon, to enrich their students’, colleagues’, and neighbors’ understanding of evolution, deep time, climate change, and the natural world. Here is part of scholarship winner Brandon Haught’s explanation of what he hopes to bring back from the Grand Canyon to his Orange City, FL, high school. Haught and Crystal Davis will receive an all-expenses-paid trip down the Grand Canyon, thanks to generous donations from NCSE supporters.
Hands-on training in real-world environments is one of the best ways to learn any subject, especially science. Unfortunately, my Environmental Science high school students are trapped within the confines of the classroom. I can’t make every class a field trip, but I gain valuable experiences any time I can by visiting all the nature museums and events possible so that I can then bring those experiences into the classroom. I was recently on hand to watch rehabilitated sea turtles being treated and released back into the wild. Later, I saw a clear difference in my students when I told them about what I personally saw and shared photos and videos with them. Lessons like that are worlds apart from the textbooks and worksheets they see every day. I pride myself on having real-world know-how from my previous military and law enforcement careers that appeal to the students. It shows that I know what I’m talking about when I tell them about the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. It makes what I say in the classroom more relevant and gives me added authority and credibility.
Climate change and evolution are required subjects in my curriculum. This motivates me to get off the school campus and away from the books and discover ways to get my hands on something meaningful and real. Spending several days in the Grand Canyon, learning from professionals and sharing with peers definitely fits the bill. I’m fortunate to work at a school that values collaboration among teachers. Nearly every day, I am brainstorming, troubleshooting and developing creative ideas with my fellow science teachers and even teachers in other subject areas that we can put to immediate use in the classroom. I would love to share with them anything and everything I learn on the Grand Canyon trip that would help all of us reach and inspire as many students as possible.
Going on NCSE’s Grand Canyon trip will definitely help me educate the wider public in any way I can by sharing with them everything I learn. I am the communications director for the statewide science advocacy organization Florida Citizens for Science, and blog for them and on my own website, sharing tales of Florida creationism past and present and exciting new science. I also have presented many talks to the general public over the past few years at events like Nerd Nite Orlando, and I can easily see myself telling tales from a Grand Canyon trip to audiences everywhere I go. The evidence for evolution is all around us. We just need to show the average Joes where to look.