Teacher Field Research Experiences: Building and Maintaining the Passion for K-12 Science Education
Academic scientists and researchers are increasingly encouraged to develop connections with K-12 educators to promote scientific literacy and bring excitement into the classroom. Such partnerships carry long-term benefits to both teachers and researchers. Teachers gain the tools, confidence, and knowledge to develop research activities with their students that promote scientific inquiry, and researchers benefit from outreach activities that improve communication skills for sharing scientific knowledge with the public. Our K-12 programs have been field based under a theme of Classrooms Without Walls, to take advantage of our local marine environment and a long-term research program on the Alaskan Arctic coast. Our professional development programs for teachers have included the creation of an annual summer graduate level course (Application of Field Research Experiences for K-12 Science and Math Educators) as an introduction to scientific methodology, observation, and inquiry based learning. We provide graduate students as resources in classrooms and for field trip experiences and provide supplies and instrumentation to teachers for K-12 field projects. Finally, teachers have an opportunity to join our researchers to remote sites under various competitive programs that receive federal support (e.g. GK- 12, ARMADA). We provide examples of our activities, which are based on recent needs assessment surveys of science teachers; these included development of content knowledge and providing students with opportunities to connect concepts with experiences. Our goal is to provide field experiences to teachers and students that enable them to relate science concepts to the real world.
Teacher Research Experiences: What We Have Learned and What We Need to Know
The immersion of teachers in scientific research is an effective model for science teacher professional development that builds the capacity of teachers to engage students in scientific inquiry. Most science teachers have had little opportunity to •Àpractice•À science. Yet national and state science education standards expect teachers to provide these kinds of experiences for their students. Through the renewal and enhancement that a teacher research experience (TRE) offers, teachers become more capable and motivated to challenge their classes through inquiry-based activities. Although TREs are believed to be successful, there is little published research on their impacts to teaching practice and student science competencies. Research shows that teacher expertise can account for approximately 40 percent of the variance in student learning in reading and mathematics achievement •À more than any other single factor including student background. Other studies show a similar correlation between teacher expertise and student achievement across the subject areas. There is a critical need for empirical research on the impacts of TREs on science education. Future research could guide funding agencies in setting priorities for the professional development of science teachers as it fine tunes the TRE model to achieve the maximum impact. This presentation will review some of the available literature on TREs and accepted best practices. It will also point to future directions that the TRE community can take to optimize these worthwhile opportunities for teachers.
Using my ARMADA Research Experience to Enhance Teaching
I am a high school Biology teacher living in Layton, Utah. I was chosen to participate in the 2006 ARMADA Project. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation and administered by the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. The project focuses on a mentoring experience coupled with a summer scientific research for teachers. I wish to present how I am incorporating the University of Rhode Island training experience and my scientific research field experience into my classroom teaching. My research experience was in the Eastern Tropical Pacific estimating current dolphin populations. Other projects I worked on were sea turtle tagging, squid sampling, fish sampling, whale biopsy, and CTD deployment. The knowledge I gleaned from the University of Rhode Island to incorporate into my classroom came from Roger Williams University aquaculture program. I am presently doing two ongoing projects with my students. We are aquaculturing zebra fish, by using this tool I am able to teach each state directed objective with the hands on experience of raising zebra fish. The second project I am involved with is the Great Salt Lake project. The high school environmental club owns a 26 foot sailboat on the Great Salt Lake. Every Saturday we take 6 students out on the lake and record position, visibility, water temperature, and salinity. We are also sampling brine shrimp and bottom bacteria for wet lab work. This is a new and innovative approach for me to teach Biology. The information and experience I was able to receive over the summer of 2006 has greatly enhanced the way I teach. I would like the opportunity to share my experiences and how I have incorporated them into my classroom. I will use power point to share my strategies and will answer questions on the practical application of these projects in the classroom. My students have grasped these 2 projects and inquiry questions have risen. Global warming and lake temperature are now being paralleled. Food web and habitat are continually discussed and there is an excitement that is refreshing. I do hope to share my experiences with others.
Teachers Learning to Teach Science by Doing Science at the University of Arizona
Many departments across the College of Science at the University of Arizona provide the opportunity for teachers to do original scientific research. These programs either provide skills and curriculum that can be translated into the classroom or include direct participation by K-12 students with their teachers. This paper introduces three of the many unique programs that UA offers for teacher professional development. The College of Science offers a teacher professional development course to accompany a public lecture series that runs each semester on a different topic of current social and scientific interest. During the Spring 2006 semester, the series subject was evolution, with attendance at each lecture running in excess of 600. This fall, the topic is climate change. In addition to attending lectures and participating in group discussions with the speakers, the teachers conduct research into regional climate change using the Western Regional Climate Center's publicly available, web-hosted climate data. The teachers brainstorm about possible influences on the data other than anthropogenic alteration of atmospheric composition, and control for these influences in their experimental design as best they can. Such influences might include urbanization, instrumental change, and natural variability. The College of Science is developing collaborations with community partners, including a local high school science magnet and a high school in the Galapagos Islands. Among several programs created in partnership with Tucson High School, Science and Nature in Tandem for Youth (SANITY) brings science teachers and students to the Southwest Research Station to conduct ecological research of their own design including the investigation of the effects of drought and other physical factors on the biosphere. The Southwest Research Station is located in the Chiricahua Mountains, one of the so-called •Àsky islands•À and a crucial cradle of biodiversity vulnerable to the effects of climate change and other human impacts. Each year, teachers from across the USA spend a month in the Galapagos Islands working with a local high school and doing their own research projects. This year the high school chose to study the effects of sewage dumped into the bay on plankton. Challenges related to working in a developing nation are discussed.
Issues Surrounding the Evaluation of Teacher Internship Programs
Georgia Intern-Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) is a collaborative effort designed to enhance mathematics and science experiences of Georgia teachers and their students through summer research internships for teachers. By offering business, industry, public science institute and research summer fellowships to teachers, GIFT provides educators with first-hand exposure to the skills and knowledge necessary for the preparation of our future workforce. Since 1991, GIFT has placed middle and high school math, science and technology teachers in over 1100 positions throughout the state. In these fellowships, teachers are involved in cutting edge scientific and engineering research, data analysis, curriculum development and real-world inquiry and problem solving, and create Action Plans to assist them in translating the experience into changed classroom practice. Since 2004, an increasing number of high school students have worked with their teachers in research laboratories. The GIFT program has an advisory board composed of university researchers, business and education leaders. The board members work in various subcommittees assisting the program with areas such as sponsor recruitment, evaluation and long term planning. The evaluation subcommittee has been actively involved in providing direction regarding the evaluation of the GIFT program's impact on teachers and their students. The program recently conducted a survey of its former participants. This presentation will discuss the results of the survey and the challenges associated with program evaluation of teacher internship programs.
From the Seafloor to the Pool: Teaching Science in Idaho Using GIS and Lessons from the Undersea
My selection for the NSF-funded 2005 REVEL* Project provided me an opportunity to become a member of the scientific team on an international, deep-sea research cruise in the N.E. Pacific Ocean. REVEL is a professional development program for K-12 teachers ready for the challenge of bringing discovery in the classroom and inquiry into science teaching and learning through the practice of oceanographic research. I was chosen to be aboard the R/V Thompson during the VISIONS '05, an interdisciplinary research cruise that used the Jason 2 remotely-operated vehicle and the autonomous vehicle ABE to collect co-registered geological, chemical, biological, and physical observations of the seafloor. In collaboration with scientists, I analyzed and interpreted high-resolution bathymetric data and dive observations collected in the Main Endeavour hydrothermal vent field of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. I will present the results obtained during Jason 2 dive 177, which visited several sites in the field. After analyzing the bathymetric data in ArcGIS, I used the ArcMap application to overlay the well-navigated dive 177. I precisely documented 15 hours of new geological observations, fluid and biology sampling, and instrument deployments and spatially associated them with the co-registered high-resolution bathymetric and morphologic data.This research project supports my exploration of spatial conceptualization in geography and geology. Although my students in Idaho do not have access to the sea, they can utilize the skills they gain from seafloor studies to collect data in our local environment, and make their own observations and interpretations of the landscape and its geological history. In addition, this work supports the mission of researchers, who need accurately-located, co-registered data sets to best plan integrative science to better understand the interaction between geological, chemical, physical and biological processes in deep-sea, remote, volcanic environments. During the research cruise, my 9th grade students in Twin Falls followed my work at sea via the web and through a live, high-definition broadcast from the ship to land. They studied seafloor hydrothermal systems in the classroom. When I returned to school, all students were ready to build their own ROVs. The semester-long project included planning their work, crafting their own questions, doing research on deep-sea technology, confronting unpredictable challenges and collaboratively solving problems as scientists would do for the success of a seagoing expedition. Their effort culminated in a community event, the ROV competition at the local YMCA pool. Several talented and experienced 9th students shared their knowledge of the deep-sea ecological environment and expertise in deep-sea technology with 4th graders. I am now combining my GIS expertise with experience of the deep-sea to foster students' interest in GIS and its applications to regional projects such as the water quality of their region. Students this year will investigate invasive species along Rock Creek, the same study area as their water quality project. They will use GIS software to map specific plant species that will be useful to the Twin Falls County Parks Department. Students will also continue to have opportunities to design, construct, and test ROVs after school. This will allow students from other classes and grade levels to participate in this learning-by-design project. * Research and Education: Volcanoes, Exploration, and Life
http://www.ocean.washington.edu/outreach/revel/ and http://www.visions05.washington.edu/
Determining Earth's magnetic field strength during magnetically quiet and stormy times and predict the location of dancing Auroras using THEMIS Mission Educators ground based magnetometer data.
The Education and Public Outreach program of the THEMIS Mission has deployed 10 ground-based observatories with science-grade magnetometers in schools in the Northern U.S. This network of schools, called Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students (GEONS), monitors local magnetic disturbances. The magnetometers are receiving local data; data are archived and available at the THEMIS E/PO Website. The E/PO program conducts teacher professional development workshops for the teachers of these schools. During the third year of the project, teachers from Alaska and Wisconsin started their classroom research using magnetometers that are installed in their classrooms. We will describe how with highly committed and enthusiastic teachers a research project developed to determine the strength of the local magnetic field in locations such as AK and WI and to compare these results with •Àcompanion schools•À at lower latitudes. The GEONS teachers not only learned science and research tools, but they also conducted workshops in their own states, influenced the science curricula in their districts, and also started student research in their classrooms. We will discuss the challenges, give the results of their research, and encourage other teachers who wish to use real data in their classrooms to participate in this exciting project.