Teaching upcoming generations about the environment is critical to ensuring a healthy future for all of us, says long-time educator Dr. Rick Mrazek.
"The bottom line is, you can't have healthy human beings in an unhealthy environment. We have to understand that relationship," he explains.
Mrazek, a veteran professor in the Faculty of Education and Board of Governors Teaching Chair, has been internationally recognized as a leading science, technology and environmental educator and researcher. For decades, he's dedicated his research to helping upcoming generations understand the world around them.
But he says traditional methods are proving to be less effective. His research now explores how to integrate new technologies into classroom learning.
"We know that this generation now thinks differently and uses information differently," he explains.
Mrazek isn't just researching the use of technology in education – he's creating digital resources too. With U of L geography professor Dr. Jim Byrne and George Gallant of Gallant Productions, he helped create the Canadian Wildlife Federation's Water Under Fire website from the Water Under Fire documentary series, which draws upon the knowledge of water scientists from coast-to-coast to create concise public service announcements and webisodes about our water systems and conservation topics.
The short videos provide key information about surface water, ground water, wastewater, and how to use water in a more sustainable way.
Water Under Fire public service announcements run on television networks across Canada to the general public, but the series is meant to also function as a teaching tool for educators, says Mrazek.
"It provides authentic information 'on demand' anywhere, anytime – which is what today's youth prefer," he says.
Mrazek is presently taking part in a national study, funded by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, which is examining levels of adoption of emerging technologies – particularly web applications like YouTube and TeacherTube – by teachers of conservation and environmental education.
"We know that a lot of people are being exposed to (online) information, but now we're trying to figure out how this is being used in classes."