Inquiry in Rain forests:

A field course for Teachers


Inquiry in Rain Forests is a graduate-level professional development course for science teachers and graduate students in science education. This course, adapted from a research-based instructional model developed at the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), addresses challenges posed by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  Course directors Barbara Bentley and Joe Levine combine decades of experience in research, teaching, and teaching about teaching. The course is certified for two graduate credits are available through the University of Washington, and for 96 contact hours of CE/PD credits through OTS.

Participants work in the rain forest to as scientists do – observing, asking questions, formulating hypotheses, designing experiments to test those hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting results for peer review. Projects involve mathematics and computational thinking, argument from evidence, and communication about the nature of science. Group discussions and workshops focus on creative ways to incorporate research perspectives into teaching, while emphasizing the practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas recommended by the National Research Council in their Framework for K-12 Science Education.

Workshops and assignments introduce hardware, software, and skills for production of videos for use in teaching. Discussions with Costa Ricans engaged in education, research, ecotourism, and agriculture offer first-person perspectives on conservation and sustainable development in tropical forest environments.

Past participants agree that the course is challenging, enjoyable, and has transformed their teaching. Check out this video featuring participants, Barbara and Joe, and Haley, Danni and Hazen from Untamed Science.

Course activities begin July 8 and continue through July 21, 2015 (travel to San José on July 7; return home on July 22) following a soon-to-be-updated version of last year’s schedule. Please also see additional information about the course and what to expect.

Applicants can apply to the course directly through OTS. (NOTE: OTS forms will reflect actual dates of course activities; note dates of travel to and from Costa Rica.) Competitive scholarships are available for qualified applicants. Members of minority groups and teachers serving minority/under-represented communities are encouraged to apply, and to watch the video below, featuring additional testimonials from some participants who also appear in the main course video.


Clockwise from upper left; Joe Levine with Daniel José Lugo during an orientation walk; Barbara Bentley in action; participants shooting an iPad video report on a field research project

July 8-21, 2015 (Arrive San José 7/7; Depart 7/22)

Course fees: $2,795

Applications for 2015 will open soon; check weekly for site updates, new schedule, and application details.

Participating in ... (this course) ... was, hands-down, the single most profound professional development experience of my teaching career. Kristen Edwards, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, NASA, Washington, DC