Using THEMIS and ACE Data for Authentic Student Research Projects in the Secondary Classroom
The Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) Mission Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) program has placed 12 magnetometers in schools in 10 Northern states. This program is called the Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students (GEONS). As part of the GEONS program teachers were tasked with developing activities around the mission science and data from the ground-based research-quality magnetometers located at their schools. An activity by Petersburg, AK teacher Vic Trautman that has students determine daily average local magnetic field intensity was adapted for this project. Students would use Image J, a Java based public domain image processing software rather than making measurements of THEMIS magnetometer data plots by hand. The local magnetic field intensity data can then by examined by students to seek out patterns. Research can then be done to attempt to explain these patterns. This past summer research was done to determine what patterns might arise and how the students might be able to explain these results. Data on variations over time in the average daily solar proton (H+) density, velocity and IMF orientation of the solar wind were obtained from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft. These were plotted against daily average B (local magnetic field intensity) values calculated from data gathered from THEMIS E/PO ground station magnetometers located at 3 different locations - Carson City, Nevada; Loysburg, PA; and Remus, MI. Data were taken for periods of quiet geomagnetic. While no significant correlation was found between solar wind momentum and local B values in data having either a southward directed or a northward directed IMF, a seasonal oscillation in local magnetic field intensity was discovered in the data. A literature search confirmed that interaction between the tilt of Earth's dipole and IMF causes seasonal variations in local magnetic field intensity. Results showed the most obvious oscillation pattern in local B values at the lowest latitude - the Carson City, NV, site. Several classroom activities were designed around the completed research project. These activities will be used at Chippewa Hills High School to lay the foundation for a group of students to engage in an independent research project to be entered in the West Michigan Regional Science and Engineering Fair. A student project on changes in active region magnetic field activity as the result of X-class flaring was done last year as a result of teacher involvement in NOAO's Teacher Leaders in Research Based Science Education (TLRBSE) program, and student involvement in NOAO's Teacher Observing Program (TOP).
Geologic Wonders of Yosemite at Two Miles High: an Undergraduate, Learner-Centered, Team Research Program at the University of Southern California
This program is a multidisciplinary student research experience that is largely outside of the classroom, involving undergraduate students in an international-level research project looking at the magmatic plumbing systems formed underneath volcanoes. We bring together a blend of students across the disciplines, both from within and outside the sciences. Following a "learner-centered" teaching philosophy, we formed student teams where more advanced students worked with and taught those more junior, under the guidance of mentors, which include USC professors, graduate students, and visiting international scholars. This program truly covers the full breadth of the research process, from field work and data collection to analysis to presentation. In the summers of 2006 and 2007, research groups of undergraduates and mentors camped in the high Sierra backcountry and worked in small mapping groups by day, generating a detailed geologic map of the field area. Evenings consisted of student led science meetings where the group discussed major research problems and developed a plan to address them. Upon returning from the field, the research group transitions to more lab- based work, including rock dating, XRF geochemistry, microscope, and mineral microprobe analyses, and by spring semester the groups also begins writing up and presenting the results. The summer 2006 research group consisted of 5 undergraduate students and 5 mentors, and was a huge success resulting in presentations at a university undergraduate research symposium as well as the Cordilleran Section meeting of GSA. The summer 2007 group was even larger, with 10 undergraduates and 6 mentors, including two international scholars. Undergraduates also participated in research in China and Mongolia. Aside from rewarding research experiences, students learn rapidly through these research experiences, were much more engaged in the learning process, and benefited from teaching their peers. Several students expressed that they felt more confident, independent, and knowledgeable about science techniques after returning from the summer field work continuing the research throughout the academic year to the conclusion of presenting their work on campus as well as at national scientific meetings.
Impact of Including Authentic Inquiry Experiences in Methods Courses for Pre-Service Secondary Teachers
Science education reform documents universally call for students to have authentic and meaningful experiences using real data in the context of their science education. The underlying philosophical position is that students analyzing data can have experiences that mimic actual research. In short, research experiences that reflect the scientific spirit of inquiry potentially can: prepare students to address real world complex problems; develop students' ability to use scientific methods; prepare students to critically evaluate the validity of data or evidence and of the consequent interpretations or conclusions; teach quantitative skills, technical methods, and scientific concepts; increase verbal, written, and graphical communication skills; and train students in the values and ethics of working with scientific data. However, it is unclear what the broader pre-service teacher preparation community is doing in preparing future teachers to promote, manage, and successful facilitate their own students in conducting authentic scientific inquiry. Surveys of undergraduates in secondary science education programs suggests that students have had almost no experiences themselves in conducting open scientific inquiry where they develop researchable questions, design strategies to pursue evidence, and communicate data-based conclusions. In response, the College of Science Teacher Preparation Program at the University of Arizona requires all students enrolled in its various science teaching methods courses to complete an open inquiry research project and defend their findings at a specially designed inquiry science mini-conference at the end of the term. End-of-term surveys show that students enjoy their research experience and believe that this experience enhances their ability to facilitate their own future students in conducting open inquiry. http://cos.arizona.edu/sci_undergraduate_info/majors_sci_teacher.asp
Designing Summer Research Experiences for Teachers and Students That Promote Classroom Science Inquiry Projects and Produce Research Results
Research experiences for science teachers are an important mechanism for increasing classroom teachers' science content knowledge and facility with "real world" research processes. We have developed and implemented a summer scientific research and education workshop model for high school teachers and students which promotes classroom science inquiry projects and produces important research results supporting our overarching scientific agenda. The summer training includes development of a scientific research framework, design and implementation of preliminary studies, extensive field research and training in and access to instruments, measurement techniques and statistical tools. The development and writing of scientific papers is used to reinforce the scientific research process. Using these skills, participants collaborate with scientists to produce research quality data and analysis. Following the summer experience, teachers report increased incorporation of research inquiry in their classrooms and student participation in science fair projects. This workshop format was developed for an NSF Biocomplexity Research program focused on the interaction of urban climates, air quality and human response and can be easily adapted for other scientific research projects.
The Teacher Research Academy as a Vehicle for Bringing Cutting-Edge S.T.E.M. Content to the K-12 Classroom
The Edward Teller Education Center (ETEC) is an established collaborative of the University of California, Davis School of Education and the Department of Energy National Laboratory at Livermore (LLNL), and exists as a vehicle for providing teacher professional development in the areas of science and technology. Through the leveraged relationships with the scientific community at LLNL and the education expertise in the School of Education, ETEC delivers teacher training and curricula to improve upon the subject matter content skills of teachers, provide modeling of best practices in teaching, and support the integration of current research practices within the context of the classroom. In 2003, ETEC successfully implemented the Teacher Research Academy as its structured teacher professional development model. The Teacher Research Academy provides a four-step professional development continuum, with an option for teachers to earn a Masters of Science in Education through a recent collaboration with the California State University at East Bay, Department of Teacher Education. Since its inception, more than 550 teachers have participated in the Teacher Research Academy and received training in the content areas of biotechnology, biophotonics, energy & environmental technologies and fusion/astrophysics. With recently obtained support from the National Science Foundation, the Teacher Research Academy is proving to be a model program with the potential long-term impact of creating master teachers who: 1) model best practices to their colleagues, 2) have an enhanced ability to connect real-world applications of science to standards-based instruction, and 3) will contribute to sustainable systemic changes in the instructional practices within their communities. http://etec.ucdavis.edu/academies
Providing Middle School Students With Science Research Experiences Through Community Partnerships
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 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.
Peer Mentoring to Facilitate Original Scientific Research by Students With Special Needs
Developed to allow high school students with special needs to participate in original scientific research, the Peer Mentoring Program was a supplement to existing science instruction for students in a self-contained classroom. Peer mentors were high school seniors at the end of a three-year advanced science research course who used their experience to create and develop inquiry-based research activities appropriate for students in the self- contained classroom. Peer mentors then assisted cooperative learning groups of special education students to facilitate the implementation of the research activities. Students with special needs successfully carried out an original research project and developed critical thinking and laboratory skills. Prior to embarking on their undergraduate course of study in the sciences, peer mentors developed an appreciation for the need to bring original scientific research to students of all levels. The program will be expanded and continued during the 2007-2008 school year.
A Partnership between English Language Learners and a Team of Rocket Scientists: EPO for the NASA SDO Extreme-Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE)
Recent immigrant high school students were successfully engaged in learning about Sun-Earth connections through a partnership with the NASA SDO Extreme-Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) project. The students were enrolled in a pilot course as part of the Math, Engineering and Science Achievement MESA) program. For many of the students, this was the only science option available to them due to language limitations. The English Language Learner (ELL) students doubled their achievement on a pre- and post-assessment on the content of the course. Students learned scientific content and vocabulary in English with support in Spanish, attended field trips, hosted scientist speakers, built and deployed space weather monitors as part of the Stanford SOLAR project, and gave final presentations in English, showcasing their new computer skills. Teachers who taught the students in other courses noted gains in the students' willingness to use English in class and noted gains in math skills. The MESA-EVE course won recognition as a Colorado MESA Program of Excellence and is being offered again in 2007-08. The course has been broken into modules for use in shorter after-school environments, or for use by EVE scientists who are outside of the Boulder area. Other EVE EPO includes professional development for teachers and content workshops for journalists. http://lasp.colorado.edu/eve/
PolarTREC-Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating: Science Education from the Poles to the World
PolarTREC-Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating is a three-year (2007-2009) teacher professional development program celebrating the International Polar Year (IPY) that advances polar science education by bringing K-12 educators and polar researchers together in hands-on field experiences in the Arctic and Antarctic. Currently in its second year, the program fosters the integration of research and education to produce a legacy of long-term teacher-researcher collaborations, improved teacher content knowledge through experiences in scientific inquiry, and broad public interest and engagement in polar science. Through PolarTREC, over 40 U.S. teachers will spend two to six weeks in the Arctic or Antarctic, working closely with researchers in the field as an integral part of the science team. Research projects focus on a wide range of IPY science themed topics such as sea-ice dynamics, terrestrial ecology, marine biology, atmospheric chemistry, and long-term climate change. While in the field, teachers and researchers will communicate extensively with their colleagues, communities, and hundreds of students of all ages across the globe, using a variety of tools including satellite phones, online journals, podcasts and interactive "Live from IPY" calls and web-based seminars. The online outreach elements of the project convey these experiences to a broad audience far beyond the classrooms of the PolarTREC teachers. In addition to field research experiences, PolarTREC will support teacher professional development and a sustained community of teachers, scientists, and the public through workshops, Internet seminars, an e-mail listserve, and teacher peer groups. To learn more about PolarTREC visit the website at: http://www.polartrec.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-474-1600. PolarTREC is funded by NSF and managed by the Arctic Research Consortium of the US (ARCUS). http://www.polartrec.com
Connecting Texas to the Poles - IPY outreach at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics
This outreach effort at UTIG targets high school teachers and students during the International Polar Year. Four individual activities were designed using a constructivist approach. The activities were integrated into a new website at UTIG specifically designed to help researchers connect with students and teachers. The website and activities serve as a starting point for the scientists to potentially get more involved with individual classrooms and traditional professional science organizations. Students will use accepted scientific knowledge, models, and theories to explain their results and to raise further questions about their investigations. Students will state what they have learned from investigations, relating their inferences to scientific knowledge and to data they have collected. They will explain their data and conclusions in ways that allow others to understand the inquiry that they have conducted. The activities are based upon data sets modified for student use from the UT Polar science community. These Polar data sets will complement student data acquired during the hands on activities central to the student inquiry lessons. The activities are range from traditional classroom lab investigations to Internet based georeferencing and mapping. Researchers and graduate students were actively involved in the development of the final products to insure the accuracy of the science and data used. http://www.ig.utexas.edu/ipy
The History of Winter: A Professional Development "Teacher as Scientist" Experiential Learning Field Experience.
Each year since 2000, the NASA Goddard History of Winter (HOW) program has allowed teachers to develop an understanding of the consequences of one segment of the orbit of the tilted Earth in its path around the sun. Scientists from NASA, CRREL, and Michigan Tech, supported by the Whiteface Observatory, and the science program at Northwood School in Lake Placid, New York, use the weather and the stratigraphy in the ice and snow, consequences of the weather changes, as "teachers" in a team study of the winter record. Snow in the air and on the ground, ice, its crystal structure and axial orientation, and the ecosystem consequences of snow and ice constitute the weeklong content package. Teacher Professional Development Standards A, B, C, and D were the guiding principles in developing HOW with a content structure formulated as protocols to serve as inserts into lesson plans and inquiry guides. The concept of HOW within NASA is to provide understanding of the WHY? and WHAT? of satellite remote sensing. The content is appropriate ground validation in that techniques presented in protocols are identical to those used by professionals who study snow pits, evaluate features in snow metamorphism, and study thin sections of ice cores drilled in ice caps and glaciers. The HOW Teacher as scientist (TAS) model is a flexible model. HOW enables teachers who are required to use inquiry-based facilitation in the classroom to experience inquiry themselves. Teachers with little science content background as well as those with Science degrees have participated in HOW working alongside of the science team. Accommodations are made through differentiation of instruction so that each group leaves with a mastery of the content that is appropriate for the transition to presentation in the classroom. Each year builds on the previous year ensuring a time series record of the history of winter-by itself a learning experience. An offshoot of the NASA Goddard Center History of Winter (HOW) Program, the Global Snowflake Network (GSN) launched in the winter of 2006 engages an international audience including both formal and informal education groups. The goal is to provide an interactive online data resource in science and education for the characterization of snowfall and related weather systems. The Global Snowflake Network has been accepted as an education outreach proposal for the International Polar Year. Collaborations with other agencies and universities also with IPY-accepted proposals are now underway. HOW and the GSN are endorsed by the NASA Goddard Education Office and many of the Goddard Snow and Ice Team scientists. Together these programs offer a unique, sustainable, and proven outreach for the Cryosphere research program. Snowflakes are like frozen data points, their shape is a record of atmospheric conditions at the time of their formation. The shapes of snowflakes vary over the winter season, with the source of a weather system and over the course of a given snowfall. The objective of the Global Snowflake Network (GSN) is to create a global ground team of teachers, students, families, and researchers worldwide to identify snowflake types during the progress of snowfalls. The result is a unique and scientifically valid resource useful to meteorology and scientific modeling of Earth's Hydrosphere. The Global Snowflake Network (GSN), simultaneously a science program and an education program is presented as a simple, scientifically valid project that has the potential to spread the IPY message and produce a lasting resource to further scientific understanding of Earth's hydrology through the study of snow. http://education.gsfc.nasa.gov/how