TI: Piles of Rocks Create Mountains of Understanding; The Fossil Finders Model for success in Earth Science Education
AU: *Pella-Donnelly, M A
AF: Science Department, A.P. Giannini Middle School, San Fransisco, CA, USA
AU: Daley, B
AF: Department of Educaiton, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
AU: Crawford Ph.D, B
AF: Science Department, Chico Junior High School, Chico, CA, USA
Through the implementation of the Fossil Finders Resources and Tools Project; students across the country have found increased academic understanding of biological evolution. Evolution curriculum is currently covered minimally in many elementary and middle schools. Fossil Finders is a collaboration of the Cornell University Department of Education, The Paleontological Institution of Ithaca, New York and classrooms all over the United States. Essential elements of this curriculum include a scaffolded series of lessons on nature of science, making observations and inferences of fossils and development of an increased understanding of essential earth science topics including the Law of Uniformitarianism and the principle of superposition . Through these hands-on lessons, students begin to understand evolutionary theory and nature of science. The rewards of implementing this curriculum can be observed with student excitement as they engage in authentic research; they become student paleontologists as they scour bags of rocks for the fossils that may be unearthed. The rocks had been collected during a field study, by the teachers and are well known to contain a multitude of Devonian era fossils. Students become researchers as they examine, identify, measure and quantify all fossils found in these rocks. As the children contribute their own data to an online database of an actual paleontological study, they become self driven to examine that compiled data in order to construct explanations of past life in that collection area. This presentation will focus on personal experiences of two teachers, as they engaged their students in authentic research in earth science It will focus on using inquiry-based strategies that can be transferred to a multitude of classrooms and how to use this basic format to engage, excite and develop understanding of earth science. Teachers will learn about effective inquiry-based lessons that incorporate aspects nature of science. Additionally, this presentation may inform curriculum designers and geologists of how similar geologic educational curriculum might be designed, using an authentic investigation.
Measuring and identifying a Devonian era fossil.
DE:  EDUCATION / Elementary and secondary education
SC: Education and Human Resources (ED)
MN: 2010 Fall Meeting