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  • Photo Andrew Calderwood

    July 01, 2015

    Science Stories

    Andrew Calderwood believes there is no more powerful way to share a message than through a story. As an earth science teacher in the Liverpool Central School District, Calderwood regularly uses narratives to reinforce lessons, to provide his students with concrete examples of concepts they’ve studied in class, and to make challenging theories seem less ambiguous. These stories are the foundation of his students’ scientific literacy and, fortunately, Calderwood has plenty of them to share.

    . A graduate of Le Moyne’s Master of Science for Teachers program, Calderwood recently visited the South African nation of Namibia through a University of Miami Ohio program known as Operation Research Earth Expeditions. Participants travel and study their surroundings in an inquiry-driven manner using a variety of methods, technologies and approaches. Calderwood was drawn to the program because, in addition to being a teacher, he also sees himself as a student.

    . “I love learning, and when I heard about this opportunity, I knew I wanted to take part in it,” he said. “It was too good to pass up.”

    . During his time in Namibia, Calderwood worked with the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an organization dedicated to saving the cats in the wild. He discovered that the worldwide cheetah population has fallen a staggering 90 percent in the past 24 100 years, from 100,000 in 1990 1900 to 10,000 today, and that the greatest threat to the cats comes from farmers and ranchers seeking to protect their livestock. He and other volunteers and staff with the CCF worked to provide them with tools to protect their property while conserving the cheetah population, for example, by using dogs to deter the cheetahs from approaching ranches and farms. After completing the program, Calderwood rented a camper and spent nearly two weeks exploring the Namib Desert, a largely uninhabited area spanning some 31,000 square miles. He has shared what he learned about ecology and animal and ecosystem conservation with his students in the classroom and the community at large through public presentations.

    . “It was a tremendous experience,” he said of his timed time in Africa. “It not only provided me with an outlet to expand my teaching, but it also allowed me to give back to the community.”

    . In 2013, Calderwood was one of 35 teachers in Central New York selected as a Master Teacher Fellow. He worked with teaching colleges and undergraduate and graduate education students, helping them to develop professionally. What may be surprising to some is that he began his own professional life out of the classroom as a geologist at C and C&S Companies, where his responsibilities included installing hundreds of ground water monitoring wells.

    . “I have often wondered if I should have gone into teaching right away but, because of the route I have taken, I can speak from experience and that is important to me,” he said. “I think it has made me a better teacher. I love to share stories with my students that will help to prepare them for life and for future citizenship.”

    . This spring Calederwood Calderwood will provide his students with an opportunity to conduct their own field research when they travel to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands to study coral and island ecosystems. He has led similar programs before, and found that they improve students’ understanding of concepts learned in class, and boost their understanding of the broader world.

    . “I tell my students that what makes travelling so powerful is that it makes you a more knowledgeable person and opens you up to whole new points of view,” he said.
    Category: Alumni in Action