In the Trenches - January 2013

Volume 3, Number 1

In This Issue

Online Supplements
This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches join NAGT

Providing Authentic Research Experiences in Geoscience and Geoscience Education for Pre-Service Teachers

James R. Ebert and Anna C. Downey, SUNY Oneonta, Oneonta, NY

"Science teachers are now expected to educate their students using nature of science principles: teaching science the way that science is done. That hands-on learning results in greater understanding and increased retention of knowledge has been widely accepted in the education community across all disciplines. Learning should revolve around investigation and inquiry, where students can make their own conclusions that stem from hypotheses they create. Students are expected to recognize that science rarely provides simple answers and that all knowledge gained through the process of science is tentative. These insights prompt the question: How can this type of learning take place in K-12 classrooms if teachers themselves have not participated in inquiry-based learning?"
  • ESPRIT Email List: This email list provides a forum for discussion and professional support of teachers of Earth Science. This is an especially active list with subscribers from all across the United States.

Mentoring Middle School and High School Earth Science Teachers to Publish

Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine, Medla, PA; Tanya Furman, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

"In higher education, the culmination of faculty research enterprise and the currency of professional advancement is the dissemination of original work through publication. This culture is not prevalent in the K-12 teaching community, but we are working hard to bridge that divide. For the past several years, we have led summer workshops, funded by the National Science Foundation, for middle school and high school teachers. Many teachers who engage in our workshops have developed excellent curricular innovations, but their insightful and creative work often goes unrecognized and unshared. It has become our mission to encourage these innovative teachers to disseminate their work through publication."

The ReaL Earth Inquiry Project: Introducing Inquiry-Driven Field Exploration to Students Across the Nation

Richard Kissel, Don Dougan-Haa, and Robert M. Ross, the Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, NY

"Between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago, from the time of mammoths and mastodons to the rise of the Roman Empire, the horizon of southern Idaho burned with a fiery glow. Curtains of lava—many greater than a thousand feet—erupted from fissures that cracked the surface, and hot gases, cinder, and volcanic bombs exploded from the hellish landscape."

Geo2YC Division Marks First Year of Accomplishment

David Voorhees, Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove, IL

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Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Sustainability has Global Impact

Jonathan Tomkin, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL

"What is a MOOC? As the headline suggests, MOOCs are large (massive) courses with unrestricted access (open) that are taught via the Internet (online). MOOCs gained notoriety in 2011 when Sebastian Thrun of Stanford University taught one on artificial intelligence to over 160,000 students. Since then interest has exploded. The larger MOOC platforms (Coursera and Udacity) have attracted tens of millions in start-up funding and enrolled millions of students. It is now possible to enroll in MOOCs in fields as diverse as finance, chemistry, economics, and history. These courses do not yet count for college credit, but this may soon become a reality."

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Web Features

NAGT, its members, and its sponsored projects have produced a number of resources related to the topics addressed in this issue.

Preparing Teachers to Teach Earth Science

This site examines the role of geoscience departments and faculty in preparing preservice teachers and supporting practicing teachers who teach Earth science at all pre-college levels. The site features

  • essays and articles addressing particular issues in preparing earth science teachers
  • descriptions of various programs working with pre-service and practicing teachers to improve their ability to teach Earth science
  • teaching activities, teacher interviews, course descriptions and other collections of resources submitted by teachers and faculty from across the country
  • an email list for connecting with other teachers and faculty on these topics

Geoscientific Thinking - Pre-Service Educators

The methods and ways of thinking that are intrinsic to Earth science differ in important ways from the experimental procedures that are commonly taught in schools as the scientific method.

K12 Science

K12 Science is SERC's portal for K-12 Educators. The portal looks across all the project websites hosted by SERC to find the activities and resources of highest interest to K-12 educators. On this site, there are hundreds of classroom activities organized by grade level and topic as well as guidance on effective teaching. Many of these resources were expressly developed with a K-12 audience in mind. Others can be adapted to K-12 classrooms even though they were originally developed with a college audience in mind.

NAGT's Education and Policy Work

The Education and Policy page on NAGT's website gives members information on how the organization it working to influence national conversations that impact geoscience education at all levels as well as how members can become active and make their own voices heard. Resources include:

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