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The Education Office: Energy and Ecosystems: Prairie, Water and Woods Program

Energy and Ecosystems: Prairie, Water and Woods (6–9)
This new interactive field studies program is a revised version of Particles and Prairies, a popular study unit that has enhanced teacher and student understanding of the natural world for over 20 years. Energy and Ecosystems (E&E) features ecosystem services, engineering components, and field studies where students take scientific data. This new program provides students with authentic experiences using scientific practices and crosscutting concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Language Arts and Math. The program includes an instructional unit, a professional development workshop, and free field trips at Fermilab led by our Education Facilitators.
About the Teacher Workshop
Three ecosystems in one workshop: prairie, water and woods. Investigate the dynamics of nature including energy cycles, resilience and biodiversity to reveal interdependent relationships among organisms within prairie, water and woodland ecosystems. Learn biological principles and how to use standard ecological measurement techniques to teach students to investigate, assess and compare these different habitats. If you have already attended a Particles and Prairies workshop, you can still attend and get credit for this new workshop.
Comments from Particles and Prairies teacher workshops:
"I am overwhelmed by the info, the activities, the wealth of resources — both written and supplies. This is the over-all best class I've ever had."
"It offered a lot of great instructional materials; allowed me to expand my understanding and experience material I would be presenting to my class."
In the Classroom
In this ecology unit, students develop a deep understanding and appreciation of the components of prairie, water and woodland ecosystems. Using the same techniques that scientists use, students learn to collaborate and collect, upload, analyze and interpret data. At school, students can query data from the quadrat studies to explore trends in the restoration of the prairie over time.
Particles and Prairies comment:
"The P&P curriculum is hands-on, rigorous and engaging. The activities and labs provide opportunities to participate in scientific practices and promote the ideas found in the cross cutting concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards."
On the Field Trip
Teachers may bring students to Fermilab for free field trips as often as one desires. Students make observations and gather data that provide vital information to help Fermilab's ongoing prairie restoration project. They obtain and communicate information about the similarities and differences of prairie, water and woodland ecosystems. Request a field trip.
Particles and Prairies comments:
"I can't even imagine what could have been done better. The students were engaged from beginning to the end while learning. Even my students, who are not particularly outdoorsy or, to be frank, interested in science came away with something. Thank you for one of the best field trip experiences we have ever had."
"Fermi's docents continue to impress me with their knowledge, their patience, and their outstanding ability to work so well with a difficult age group! I've taken groups to other prairie trips in the area, but this one is always far superior!"

Teacher Workshop 2023
Date:July 24–28, 2023 - Register
Time:8:00 AM–4:00 PM
8:00 AM–4:30 PM (for graduate credit)
Graduate Credit:3 semester hours graduate credit available through the University of St. Francis (additional fee applies). Click here for more information.
ISBE recertification:40 PDHs (non-credit)


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