TI: Providing Middle School Students With Science Research Experiences Through Community Partnerships
AU: * Rodriguez, D
AF: National High Magnetic Field Lab / Swift Creek Middle School, 2100 Pedrick Road,
Tallahassee, FL 32317, United States
Science research courses have been around for years at the university and high school level. As inquiry based
learning has become more and more a part of the science teacher's vocabulary, many of these courses have
adopted an inquiry model for studying science. Learners of all ages benefit from learning through the natural
process of inquiry. I participated in the CIRES Earthworks program for science teachers (Colorado University) in
the summer of 2007 and experienced, first hand, the value of inquiry learning. With the support and vision of my
school administration, and with the support and commitment of community partners, I have developed a Middle
School Science Research Program that is transforming how science is taught to students in my community.
Swift Creek Middle School is located in Tallahassee, Florida. There are approximately 1000 students in this
suburban public school. Students at Swift Creek are required to take one science class each year through 8th
grade. As more emphasis is placed on learning a large number of scientific facts and information, in order to
prepare students for yearly, standardized tests, there is a concern that less emphasis may be placed on the
process and nature of science. The program I developed draws from the inquiry model followed at the CIRES
Earthworks program, utilizes valuable community partnerships, and plays an important role in meeting that need.
There are three major components to this Middle School Research Program, and the Center for Integrated
Research and Learning (CIRL) at the National High Magnetic Field Lab (NHMFL) at Florida State University is
playing an important role in all three. First, each student will develop their own research question and design
experiments to answer the question. Scientists from the NHMFL are serving as mentors, or "buddy scientists," to
my students as they work through the process of inquiry. Scientists from the CIRES Ð Earthworks program,
Florida State University, and other institutions are also volunteering to be mentors.
Second, each student will participate in the GLOBE-FLEXE pilot program that involves comparing environmental
conditions of local environments to those of extreme environments, like hydrothermal vents in the deep sea. This
real-world science program is being coordinated through the FLEXE Project Office at Penn State University, and
the GLOBE Program Office in Boulder, Co. We will spend 18 class periods collecting local weather data and
analyzing meteorological data from around the world, writing scientific reports, and peer reviewing other students
reports. The NHMFL is a sponsor of the Communtiy Classroom Consortium in Tallahassee that is has funded a
grant for equipment needed to conduct the data collection portion of this process.
Finally, the students will share their research with other students, parents, teachers, and scientists at a school
science fair in the fall, and a scientific poster session in the spring. The NHMFL will be supplying judges for the
two sessions. They will also be offering the use of their facilities at the laboratory in the spring. Scientists from
the lab will mingle with the students, discuss their research, and critique and encourage the young scientists at
the first annual Middle School Research Symposium in May, 2008.
DE: 0800 EDUCATION
DE: 0805 Elementary and secondary education
DE: 0820 Curriculum and laboratory design
SC: Education and Human Resources [ED]
MN: 2007 Fall Meeting