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Students tune in to local parks with remote science lessons from Pinellas schools

Two teachers have teamed up to produce weekly episodes to teach kids about insects and plants while they’re learning from home.
Lubber grasshoppers are shown at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg, in a screenshot of remote science lesson video posted by Pinellas County School District. New episodes will air weekly to help students experience nature while they learn from home. [YouTube]
Lubber grasshoppers are shown at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg, in a screenshot of remote science lesson video posted by Pinellas County School District. New episodes will air weekly to help students experience nature while they learn from home. [YouTube] [ YouTube ]
Published Apr. 7, 2020

Pinellas County School District has debuted a new video series to give students access to local parks while they’re cooped up at home due to the coronavirus.

Two episodes have aired so far: one on the lubber grasshopper and another on the antlion, a larvae that eventually turns into what resembles a small dragonfly. Collectively called “Life Science at a Social Distance,” the videos appear on YouTube weekly, starring science resource teachers Martyne LaDuke and Ginger Rehm.

Normally, when school is in session, the teachers specialize in providing environmental lessons to the county’s fourth-graders. The students visit either Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg or Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs as part of their science curriculum.

An adult antlion is shown in a screenshot from a video produced by Pinellas County schools. The video is part of a new weekly series called Life Science at a Social Distance.
An adult antlion is shown in a screenshot from a video produced by Pinellas County schools. The video is part of a new weekly series called Life Science at a Social Distance. [ YouTube ]

When the coronavirus forced schools closed, the teachers wanted to ensure those students could still get in touch with nature, even if it had to be over the internet, LaDuke said. “We had to come up with something."

The teachers worked with the school district to produce the videos, which are now available to all students and the general public. They show up-close views of insects and plants, as well as information on the featured species.

Upcoming episodes will focus on Florida state symbols, like alligators, sabal palm trees and orange juice. The hope is to pique kids’ interest while also giving teachers material to use for online instruction.

“I think it’s more important now than ever that students get to experience a little bit of the outdoors,” LaDuke said. “While we’re all inside and connected to our devices, it instills the importance of the environment.”

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