UTD to Promote Air-Quality Awareness Among Metroplex Teachers and Students

University Offers Free Summer Workshop for K-12 Instructors

RICHARDSON, Texas (May 24, 2004) – The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) is hoping to bring something that can’t be seen into sharp focus for Metroplex-area K-12 teachers and, ultimately, their students through a one-day professional development workshop aimed at promoting air-quality awareness in public schools.

The workshop, to be conducted on four Saturdays in June and July in both Richardson and Fort Worth, will be free of charge to current and prospective classroom teachers and count toward professional development requirements, as well as Texas Environmental Education Advisory Committee recognition.

“Air is a critical resource that most of us take for granted,” said Dr. Rebekah K. Nix, a senior lecturer in UTD’s Teacher Development Center, which developed the session with the university’s Science/Mathematics Education Department. “Virtually invisible, it is a difficult concept to master and a challenging topic to teach. By providing teachers with the content knowledge, pedagogical skills and technology tools needed to make a positive impact in their classrooms, we hope to raise the visibility of air-quality issues and eventually make a positive contribution to the long-term quality of our air.”

Currently, North Texas does not comply with federal air-quality standards. The “nonattainment” area, which includes Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties, has until 2010 to reach clean-air compliance or face stricter requirements on businesses and individuals that would limit job growth and contribute to higher prices in the region.

Dubbed “AIR,” an acronym for Action – Interaction – Reaction, the workshop is made possible by an award from the North Texas Clean Air Coalition (NTCAC) Community Grants Program, which was funded by Dallas-based energy provider TXU Corporation.

According to Nix, the six hours of instruction offered at each AIR workshop will include demonstrations of effective science teaching techniques in a simulated classroom learning environment, utilizing a specialized curriculum and related resources. The ecological, scientific, social and political aspects of the problem of air pollution in North Texas will be among issues addressed, she said, as well as actions to improve air quality.

Upon completion of the workshop, Nix said, teachers will receive lesson plans, based on NTCAC guidelines, for use in their classrooms, as well as a wide range of collateral materials. Nix plans to maintain an Internet site throughout the coming academic year to support and encourage teachers in implementing the AIR curriculum.

The workshop will be offered on the UTD campus in Richardson on two dates, June 19 and July 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The session also will be offered at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth on two other dates – June 26 and July 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Box lunches will be provided to participants free of charge.

Because space is limited, Nix encourages those interested in attending a workshop to register soon at the web site www.utdallas.edu/~rnix/air. For additional information about the program, please call the Teacher Development Center at 972-883-2730.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 13,700 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.