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    Teacher Professional Learning

    Three-day professional development workshop for high school science teachers that immerses participants in relevant local and regional water resource issues through the use of online mapping tools, field data collection, and modeling.

About TPL

The Teacher Professional Learning (TPL) program is three-day professional development workshop for secondary school teachers that immerses participants in relevant local and regional water resource issues and online mapping tools to explore these issues deeper. Each participant leaves with 10-15 lessons of a Water and Sustainability Science unit based on Next Generation Science Standards that can be tailored to their needs.

TPL was formed under the partnership of faculty from UConn's Center for Land Use Education & Research (CLEAR), Department of Natural Resources & the Environment, Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering (CESE), and Neag School of Education. TPL provides hands-on training in natural resources management (focusing on water) and online geospatial tools.



The theme of TPL is water, weaving in all three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) framework: core ideas, key practices, and cross-cutting concepts. TPL focuses on the connections between land use and water resource health. We start globally but quickly narrow in on Connecticut. Concepts are explored in the classroom but also in a half-day field tour of the UConn campus, which is known for its innovative stormwater management practices. Participants are taught how to use existing online mapping tools to explore these concepts for themselves in ways that align with NGSS, and for their particular geographic area of interest. All participants leave the workshop with 10-15 lessons in a Water & Sustainability Unit developed by UConn Neag School of Education researchers and are aligned with the Performance Expectation bundles listed below.

  • Earth and Human Activity (HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4)
  • Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics (HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-6, HS-LS2-7)
  • Engineering Design (HS-ETS1-3, HS-ETS1-4)
conducting research

Day One

Starting at the global level, we quickly bring the issues down to the regional and local scale. We work in the classroom, carry out field activities, and visit campus sites that illustrate sustainability of water resources from a quality and quantity perspective.

people making a poster

Day Two

The second part of the workshop focuses on the use of online mapping tools and models as a way to explore local water resources and connect them to larger issues. Participants explore maps and also make online maps of their own!

people listening to a speaker

Day Three

On the last day, participants create a tailored water resources module to take back to their students based on templates provided by the instructors and designed to be locally-focused and to take advantage of their new skills.

people comparing data outside
research in a lab
people taking notes outside

Program Resources

Websites & Online Tools

Welcome to the Anthropocene Story Map

An Esri story map showcasing evidence of human influences on our planet.

Connecticut's Changing Landscape

The Connecticut’s Changing Landscape (CCL) story map contains interactive maps that let the user explore various aspects of landscape change in Connecticut. Created by CLEAR.

Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online (CT ECO)

Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online (CT ECO) is an interactive mapping site that showcases all available statewide data layers related to natural resources and the environment. Created by CLEAR and the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

WikiWatershed Runoff Simulation Model

The Runoff Simulation Model allows users to change the three parameters controlling rainfall runoff -- storm size, land cover, and soil type – for a theoretical plot of land, thus allowing them to understand the interplay of these factors.  Created by the Stroud Water Research Center.

WikiWatershed Models

The Map My Watershed Model allows users to explore the runoff quality and quantity in a given watershed or area of their choice.  They can also create scenarios with different land uses and/or conservation practices to see how those changes affect runoff.  Created by the Stroud Water Research Center.

Map My Watershed Model
Explore the WikiWatershed Toolkit

State of LID Story Map

The State of Low Impact Development in Connecticut story map takes the viewer through the results of a statewide survey of the LID regulations in Connecticut towns, and the major factors either encouraging or discouraging the use of LID practices. Created by CLEAR.

UConn Campus Green Infrastructure Tour

This story map is a tour of the Green Infrastructure or Low Impact Development (LID) practices on the main UConn campus in Storrs, including photos and explanatory video clips. Created by CLEAR.

MS4 Map Viewer

Other Online Resources

CLEAR Story Map Gallery

One-stop shopping for CLEAR story maps – there’s a few in here, besides the ones listed above, that might be of interest (bears, anyone?).  Created by CLEAR.


Ready-to-use educational modules that make use of the internet mapping technology ArcGIS Online. Created by industry leader Esri.

Esri Story Map Gallery

Hundreds of curated story maps on a wide range of topics. Gallery created by industry leader Esri. Story maps created by GIS users.

UConn Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)

The UConn Map and Geographic Information Center. The place to go for online historical maps, including the 1934 statewide aerial photos. Created by the UConn Library.


An online mapping tool that allows the user to delineate the watershed of any chosen point on a stream, and generate a map and some key information about that area. Created by the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Rain Garden App: Free smart phone application with everything you need to build your own “rain garden” low impact development practice.

What is GSI/LID? These interchangeable terms both refer to the use of natural methods to absorb rainfall and runoff.

National LID Atlas: An interactive map of LID practices with examples from across the country.

Eagleville Brook Real Time Monitoring Website

Human Impacts on Local Water Resources (American Biology Teacher)

Access the full Unit Planning Template or individual lessons by day (cards below).

Day 1: Modeling the Health of Three Local Water Resources

Days 2-3: Determining Water Quality and Biodiversity

Days 4-6: Modeling Water Flow through Ecosystems

Day 7: Human Impact on Land and Water

Days 8-9: Ecological Functions & Services

Day 10: Human Decision Making

Days 11-12: Revisiting Models

Extending the Unit: EcoJustice

Extending the Unit: Low Impact Development

TPL At-a-Glance







group photoconducting researchgathering datagathering datapeople comparing data outsidegroup photoresearch in a labresearch in a labpeople listening to a speakerpeople taking notes outsidegroup photo






Chester Arnold

Extension Educator and CLEAR Director

Department of Extension; Center for Land Use Education and Research


Todd Campbell

Professor of Science Education

Neag School of Education


Cary Chadwick

Geospatial Training Program Coordinator

Department of Extension; Center for Land Use Education and Research


Laura Cisneros

Assistant Extension Professor

Department of Natural Resources & the Environment; Institute of the Environment


Dave Dickson

NEMO Co-Director and Mobile Mapping Educator

Department of Extension; Center for Land Use Education and Research


Michael Dietz

Water Resources Extension Educator and Director of the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources

Department of Natural Resources & the Environment


David Moss

Associate Professor and Director of Global Education

Neag School of Education


Laura Rodriguez

Doctoral Candidate

Neag School of Education


John Volin

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor

Office of the Provost and Department of Natural Resources & the Environment


Emily Wilson

Geospatial Educator

Department of Extension and Center for Land Use Education & Research


Michael Willig

Professor and Director

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Program Funding


NRCA’s Teacher Professional Learning (TPL) program was supported by a grant (PD-STEP 2016-05148) from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture Food and Research Initiative Education and Literacy Initiative, as part of their Professional Development Opportunities for Secondary School Teachers program.