Indiana University

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Last modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010

IU takes fifth-grade teachers back in time, to the Dominican Republic

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July 1, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's (HPER) Office of Underwater Science is partnering with fifth-grade teachers from Edgewood Intermediate School in Ellettsville to develop a curriculum based on actual IU research taking place in the Dominican Republic and involving some of the West's earliest explorers.

The 11 teachers and IU researchers on July 4 will travel to the Dominican Republic, where they will walk on the streets and follow the paths of explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Ponce de Leon, Hernando Cortes, and others. In preparation for the trip, the teachers have been attending lectures at the IU Underwater Science lab, which is under the direction of archeologist Charles Beeker, and have been learning to snorkel so they can view ruins of sunken ships and other underwater discoveries.

"This is a great opportunity for IU to work with the local Edgewood fifth-grade teachers to develop practical curriculum concepts that match state standards and are based on actual IU research," said Beeker. "Specifically I like to refer to our scope of research as 'Columbus and the Taino to Captain Kidd and the Golden Age of Piracy.' What better way to engage a fifth-grader than actual teacher field experiences, combined with real academic research?"

The purpose of the curriculum is to expand the view and understanding of the age of exploration and the first contacts between the indigenous groups and European explorers, ultimately encouraging students to broaden their world view and increase tolerance and acceptance.

As a result, this unit intends to develop a practical curriculum that they hope will be available to all fifth-grade teachers in Indiana and contain a variety of artifacts for students to be able to manipulate.

With the proposed curriculum, students will:

"As a former IU student who worked with Mr. Beeker, I am really pleased to be able to coordinate this effort to develop a meaningful fifth-grade curriculum based on IU field research projects, while providing hands-on teacher experiences," said Lynn Uhls, project coordinator from Edgewood Intermediate School. "What a great teaching tool to bring the days of Columbus' first contact with the Taino to the golden age of piracy into the Indiana classroom. So far, it will cover four subject areas, and includes over 30 state standards."

Currently, the plan is for eight classrooms at Edgewood Intermediate School to pilot the model curriculum in the fall of 2010. The trip is being funded through a combination of personal funds and grants.

About the School of HPER

Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) encompasses a broad spectrum of academic interests and professional fields. HPER offers nearly 50 undergraduate and advanced degree programs through its departments. To further its health and wellness initiative, Campus Recreational Sports provides sport and fitness services for the IU community and the public. More information can be found at

For more information or to speak with a teacher, contact Cindy Miller at 855-1354 and

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