In the Trenches - January 2016

Volume 6, Number 1

In This Issue

Online Supplements

This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. Members can follow the "Read more" links below to access full versions of the articles online. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches, join NAGT

Getting Your Feet Wet: Simulation Science and the Marine Sciences Curriculum

Richard (Rick) Schmidt, Upper Dublin High School

In 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released Revolutionizing Earth System Science Education in the 21st Century, a comprehensive report that sought to examine the mixed record of earth science education in the United States and offer ways to improve it. Unfortunately, the report confirmed what many of us already knew, that "these findings point to a disconnect between the pressing need for an Earth system literate society and the current K-12 education system that is responsible for developing this capacity" (Hoffman, 2007). Other research conducted by such organizations as the American Geosciences Institute also point to a potential deficit of as many as 135,000 geoscientists (including oceanographers) by the year 2022 (Wilson, 2014). Yet for many states that do not border an ocean, the teaching of marine science to high school students in an interesting and scientifically meaningful way, that also makes clear and deliberate connections to the future marine science workforce, can be both impractical and obscure, especially when students have little experience with the ocean environment. Read more...
  • Hoffman, M. & Barstow, D., 2007, Revolutionizing earth system science education for the 21st century: Cambridge, MA, Center for Earth and Space Science Education, TERC.
  • National Ocean Service, 2011, How important is the ocean to our economy?: Washington, D.C.: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved from
  • Schmidt, R., 2013, Bridging the geoscience workforce gap: advanced high school geoscience programs (doctoral dissertation), Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Wilson, C., 2014, Status of the geoscience workforce 2014: Alexandria, VA, American Geosciences Institute.

Active Learning: Engaging Students in Marine Sediment Classification

Margaret E. Crowder, Western Kentucky University

Teaching oceanography at an inland university can be challenging, as some students have never visited the coast. The location also creates a barrier to the conventional idea of hands-on learning for oceanography, as a coastal field trip is an expensive prospect. However, active learning involving hands-on activities is known to improve student outcomes, with research finding increased student pass rates and conceptual understanding (Freeman, et al., 2014; McConnell, Steer, and Owens, 2003). It is therefore important to find ways to engage students outside of a traditional lecture. Read more...
  • Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M., Smith, M.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., and Wenderoth, M.P., 2014, Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, v. 111(23), p. 8410-8415.
  • Henderson, C., and Dancy, M.H., 2007, Barriers to the use of research-based instructional strategies: The influence of both individual and situational characteristics: Physical Review Special Topics: Physics Education Research, v. 3(2), 020102.
  • McConnell, D.A., Steer, D.N., and Owens, K.D., 2003, Assessment and active learning strategies for introductory geology courses: Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 51(2), p. 205-216.
  • Mitchell, M., 1993, Situational interest: Its multifaceted structure in the secondary school mathematics classroom: Journal of Educational Psychology, v. 85(3), p. 424-436.
  • Rotgans, J.I., and Schmidt, H.G., 2011, Situational interest and academic achievement in the activelearning classroom: Learning and Instruction, v. 21(1), p. 58-67.
  • Waldrop, M.M., 2015, Why we are teaching science wrong, and how to make it right: Nature, v. 523(7560), p. 272-274.

Planning Underway for Earth Educators Rendezvous 2016 in Madison

Marine Sediments' Dirty Little Secret: Using Sediments to Study Human-altered Ecosystems

Debra Woodall, Daytona State College

Students enrolled in Introduction to Oceanography (OCE1001) at Daytona State College (DSC) are discovering the dirty little secret hidden within their sediment samples. DSC is located in Daytona Beach, Florida, where Atlantic beaches provide a very popular tourist destination for sun, fun, and...beach driving. These same beaches are also important habitats for certain sea turtle species, harboring one of the densest sea turtle nesting areas found in the Western Hemisphere, as well as a species of mole crab, those tiny but important little morsels of food that burrow themselves into the sand to escape from predators such as birds and fish. For sea turtles and mole crabs, the type and condition of sandy sediments may play a role in species number. Read more...
  • Garland, E., "The Indian River Lagoon: An estuary of national significance," Palatka, Florida: St. Johns River Water Management District, Last updated on December 23, 2015, accessed January 11, 2016.
  • Thurman, H.V. & Trujillo, A.P. (2004). Introductory Oceanography (10th Edition), Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.

NAGT Awards and Scholarships Recognize Outstanding K-12 Earth Science Teachers, Fund Field Study for Undergraduates

FAVORITE DEMONSTRATIONS: A Very Simple Experiment for Understanding Global Ocean Circulation

Mirjam Sophia Glessmer, Center for Teaching and Learning, Hamburg University of Technology

One of the most basic concepts in oceanography is the "great conveyor belt" – a current that spans the world's oceans. It flows as a warm surface current towards the North Atlantic, where it cools, sinks and finally returns southward near the bottom of the ocean. Water is transported back to the surface through mixing processes in several ocean regions. While some part of the conveyor belt is wind-driven, a large part can be explained by the water sinking due to cooling at high latitudes. Read more...

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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.

On the Cutting Edge: Teaching Oceanography »

Oceans cover about 70% of the globe and have a major influence on all of Earth's systems. Oceanography offers a fascinating context to connect science with human dimensions through the study of current events and issues such as hazards, pollution, energy resources, and more. Dive into the resources available on Cutting Edge for exciting ways to incorporate oceanography and its multi-disciplinary facets into your classroom and laboratory.

SERC Site Guide: Oceanography »

Several resources about Oceanography are available from the SERC websites. This Stie Guide provides a list of project websites that provide visualizations, teaching activities, and tools that may be of use in the classroom or in lab.

Starting Point: Interactive Lecture Demonstrations »

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations engage students in activities that confront their prior understanding of a core concept. The activity can be a classroom experiment, a survey, a simulation or an analysis of secondary data.

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