Authentic Research Immersion Experiences: the Key to Enduring Understandings
Do authentic research experiences have a role in today's classrooms? Where do they fit into the constrained curriculum units and high-stakes testing regimen that define a teacher's world? It is possible, even in today's somewhat narrow teaching environment, to integrate authentic research into the classroom and evolve away from the worksheets and lessons that simply "teach to the test"? Authentic research immersion experiences must be carefully packaged the for classroom use with clear alignment to standards and a learning curve that is not too daunting. By helping teachers to see the value in replacing curricular units with authentic research experiences and designing the research program to fit within a teacher's needs, the rate of successful adoption of the research program becomes much higher. As a result, not only do their students reap the educational rewards of becoming active research participants in the process of science and learn it from the inside out, but the opportunity for the teachers to grow professionally in content and science process knowledge is also an additional benefit. NASA has had and continues to have a significant role in providing these data and mission- related immersion experiences for elementary classrooms through graduate school students. http://msip.asu.edu
Connecting Arctic/Antarctic Researchers and Educators (CARE): Supporting Teachers and Researchers Beyond the Research Experience
Teacher research experiences (TREs) require long-term sustained support for successful transfer of research experiences into the classroom. Specifically, a support mechanism that facilitates focused discussion and collaboration among teachers and researchers is critical to improve science content and pedagogical approaches in science education. Connecting Arctic/Antarctic Researchers and Educators (CARE) is a professional development network that utilizes online web meetings to support the integration of science research experiences into classroom curriculum. CARE brings together teachers and researchers to discuss field experiences, current science issues, content, technology resources, and pedagogy. CARE is a component of the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) education program PolarTRECTeachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating. PolarTREC 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. The CARE network was established to develop a sustainable learning community through which teachers and researchers will further their work to bring polar research into classrooms. Through CARE, small groups of educators are formed on the basis of grade-level and geographic region; each group also contains a teacher facilitator. Although CARE targets educators with previous polar research experiences, it is also open to those who have not participated in a TRE but who are interested in bringing real-world polar science to the classroom. Researchers are regularly invited to attend the web meetings, and some CARE meetings host specific researchers to talk about their work and their experiences working with teachers in the field. Facilitated group meetings focus on discussions of field experiences, current scientific research, and application of experiences to classrooms and curriculum. CARE is designed to be mindful of participants' needs; the meeting agendas reflect the stated concerns of participating teachers and researchers, such as incorporating real data into everyday curriculum, teaching about the impacts of climate change in a meaningful and educational way, developing polar related lessons and units that include State and National standards, and incorporating scientific tools and instruments into everyday curriculum. In addition to the regularly scheduled CARE group meetings, a series of CARE Seminars will be held in spring 2008 and open to the public. The public CARE Seminars will focus on issues that are of interest to a wider range of educators (e.g. clues from past climates, impacts of climate change on the Arctic, cultural sensitivity and working with indigenous peoples, and women and minorities of polar science. CARE provides a mechanism for teachers and researchers to interact, leveraging their diverse experiences and expertise to form long-term professional relationships that continue beyond the research experience. To learn more about CARE and PolarTREC visit the website at: http://www.polartrec.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-474-1600. PolarTREC is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Quality Science Teacher Professional Development and Student Achievement
Studies show that socio-economic background and parental education accounts for 50-60 percent of a child's achievement in school. School, and other influences, account for the remaining 40-50 percent. In contrast to most other professions, schools require no real apprenticeship training of science teachers. Overall, only 38 percent of United States teachers have had any on-the-job training in their first teaching position, and in some cases this consisted of a few meetings over the course of a year between the beginning teacher and the assigned mentor or master teacher. Since individual teachers determine the bulk of a student's school experiences, interventions focused on teachers have the greatest likelihood of affecting students. To address this deficiency, partnerships between scientists and K-12 teachers are increasingly recognized as an excellent method for improving teacher preparedness and the quality of science education. Columbia University's Summer Research Program for Science Teachers' (founded in 1990) basic premise is simple: teachers cannot effectively teach science if they have no firsthand experience doing science, hence the Program's motto, "Practice what you teach." Columbia University's Summer Research Program for Science Teachers provides strong evidence that a teacher research program is a very effective form of professional development for secondary school science teachers and has a direct correlation to increased student achievement in science. The author will present the methodology of the program's evaluation citing statistically significant data. The author will also show the economic benefits of teacher participation in this form of professional development. http://www.ScienceTeacherProgram.org
Authentic Experience and Community: CIRES Earthworks Workshops for Science Teachers
Earthworks is a field-based workshop for secondary science teachers in which teachers collaborate with geoscience researchers to design and implement their own research project over the course of a week. The goal of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for teachers to practice the skills and habits of mind necessary to conduct science research from start to finish, thereby making the implementation of these skills in the classroom more likely. Our model shares many of the same goals of traditional research experiences for teachers, but differs in the way that we approach them. Earthworks teachers have the opportunity to return for the summer workshop from year to year, and communicate with one another on a listserve throughout the year. This ongoing community is key to the success of the teachers' implementation goals. Many have won grants to implement the plans they made during Earthworks and have implemented student research activities on questions of local interest in their classroom. This talk will focus on the results of a summative evaluation survey of past Earthworks participants, recent interviews with scientist partners and participants, and will describe a new initiative to influence more teachers via a train the trainer component. http://cires.colorado.edu/education/k12/earthworks/
A Teacher Research Experience: Promoting Science Literacy
As an ARMADA master teacher, I was able to take part in STEEP, a study of the evolution of the Saint Elias Mountains. This enabled me to experience current geological fieldwork, and gave me the opportunity to step out of the classroom. As a middle school science teacher, one of my major responsibilities is to instill a love of scince in my students. I need to introduce them to the many career opportunities that are available in the field. To be more effective in the classroom, I am deeply committed to mastering the skills, techniques and content needed to ensure success for my students in this ever-changing world. Rich, authentic opportunities to work along with scientists in the field and to engage in scientific discourse can expand a teacher's knowledge of science and the scientific process. Teachers become more familiar with the use of scientific tools and how to gather and interpret data. This knowledge will be transferred into the classroom, which will enable students to become more scientifically literate. Because of this experience, I will more effectively mentor other teachers in my district to enhance the instruction in their classes. This presentation will show how research/teacher partnerships can benefit both parties, and how my experience transferred back to the classroom and to my school district.
Space Weather Around the World: Using Educational Technology to Engage Teachers and Students in Science Research
The Space Weather Around the World Program uses NASA satellite data and education technology to provide a framework for students and teachers to study the effects of solar storms on the Earth and then report their results at their own school and to others around the world. Teachers and students are trained to create Space Weather Action Centers by building their own equipment to take data or using real satellite and/or ground-based data available through the internet to study and track the effects of solar storms. They can then predict "space weather" for our planet and what the effects might be on aurora, Earth-orbiting satellites, humans in space, etc. The results are presented via proven education technology techniques including weather broadcasts using green screen technology, podcasts, webcasts and distance learning events. Any one of these techniques can capture the attention of the audience, engage them in the science and spark an interest that will encourage continued participation. Space Weather Around the World uses all of these techniques to engage millions. We will share the techniques that can be applied to any subject area and will increase participation and interest in that content. The Space Weather program provides students and teachers with unique and compelling teaching and learning experiences that will help to improve science literacy, spark an interest in careers in Science, Technology, Engineeering, and Mathematics (STEM), and engage children and adults in shaping and sharing the experience of discovery and exploration. http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov
From the Ice Sheet at Summit, Greenland to the Earth Science Classroom: Science Research in the Arctic Applied in Middle School Science.
My selection for the NSF funded 2007 Polar TREC project provided the opportunity to become a member of a core drilling and processing research science team at Summit, Greenland. Polar TREC is an educational research experience in which K-12 teachers participate in polar research, working closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education. I was chosen to participate in the research project on the Greenland ice cap which examined the air trapped in firn for clues to past climates. The unique characteristics of firn allow the sampling of large quantities of pre- industrial air to explore anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere. While in the field, the team conducted a variety measurements of physical parameters of snow; post-field analysis of the data will enable a better understanding of past climates and the impact of human activity on the Earth's atmosphere. I was also able to participate in atmospheric chemistry research as the team measured nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, sun intensity, ozone, and bromides. During the time in which I was at Summit, my students in Twin Falls followed my work via the PolarTrec website. I posted daily journals, answered emails submitted by students and teachers, and posted images of our work and daily life at Summit Camp. We had several webinars with schools world-wide in which students and teachers interacted with the research team. My students followed other PolarTrec teachers in their expeditions in the Artic in the spring and will continue to track other teachers while they participate in polar research. In my Earth Science classes we will be using methods of inquiry to study stratigraphy, density, porosity and permeability. Students will also use a pyranometer to collect and analyze sun intensity data, sharing this data with other schools collecting similar data. http://www.polartrec.org
Students As Researchers In An Inquiry Based Classroom
A teacher who participated in the National Science Foundation supported ARMADA Project through the University of Rhode Island Office of Marine Programs will share a series of lessons based on her experiences working with marine researchers. All of the activities are hands-on, inquiry based for use in elementary and secondary classrooms. The primary objective of these lessons is to give students a better understanding of what real scientists do and why. This enables students to make a real world connection with the scientific community. The emphasis on environmental monitoring will help develop an understanding of the positive and negative consequences of human action on the Earth's oceans. It will enhance the student's observation skills and increase their ability to record and analyze data. http://www.armadaproject.org/journals/2004-2005/quintero.htm