SPARCnet Education

Salamanders are accessible to people of all ages, and they are a great topic for educators at all levels who teach about science, wildlife, and the environment. By working with preK-12 teachers, environmental centers, and college/university faculty, SPARCnet works to develop meaningful curricula that engages students and has them participate in real research. We believe this is critical for improving science literacy and preparing the next generation of scientists.

Progress in understanding the influences of climate climate change requires large collaborative efforts. Plus salamanders are accessible to people of all ages and abilities, making them a great species for educators who teach about science, wildlife, and the environment. SPARCnet has three primary audiences for community-based science initiatives: preK-12 teachers and their students; environmental center staff and visitors; and college/university faculty and students. We have developed a community-science handbook (*coming soon*) for those interested in learning more.

SPARCnet’s formal education goals are to:

  1. Develop teaching modules based on core research data that engage students in authentic research
  2. Foster a regional approach to understanding the effects of climate change on forest-associated wildlife populations
  3. Create opportunities for students at different undergraduate institutions to interact and share research


The SPARCnet project is a shared effort between scientists, educators, and resource managers. One of the main goals of SPARCnet is to provide a venue for integrating field work and scientific research questions into educational materials ready for the classroom. We have partnered with QUBES to publish teaching resources that use SPARCnet sites to collect field data with students or provide Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), as well as quantitative teaching modules based on salamander data that can be used with or without access to a field site. For the most current teaching module resources please click the header above.

Undergraduate education research

  • Applying the CURE model to facilitate multi-institutional investigations. As part of a NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education grant, we are testing several hypotheses related to the effectiveness of implementing the course-based undergraduate research experiences for undergraduates through linked multi-institutional investigations using SPARCnet data and field experiences.