In the Trenches - October 2019

Celebrating Earth Science Teachers Who Inspire

Volume 9, Number 4

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

Teaching Geologic Labs with 3-D Printed Media: An Experience with Fossil Horse Teeth

ELISABETH ERVIN-BLANKENHEIM is a geology instructor at Front Range Community College, Fort Collins, CO, and a doctoral student at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Few topics are of more interest to students of all ages than fossils. At this time of critical climate change and environmental challenges, an understanding of science in general and geology in specific can be of great use by providing the context of geologic time and knowledge from similar events from the past. Geology is a historical science. It differs from other sciences and lends itself to a more holistic study of the Earth. As such, geology has a unique role in conveying overarching principles and providing a framework for understanding the natural world. According to Dodick and Argamon (2006), when compared to "hard sciences," "historical science...investigates ultimate causes that often lie very deep in the past, and the effects of which are observed only after very long and complex causal chains of intervening events. Consequently, evidence is gathered by observation of naturally occurring traces of phenomena, since manipulation is impossible (e.g., we cannot wait millions of years for the results of a hypothetical geological experiment!)." Scientific ideas can be complex to impart to students because of the specific language and other barriers to knowledge inherent in each field. There is a need for a narrative in teaching science. Read more...

Extreme Event: Using Games to Teach Disaster Resilience

KERI STOEVER is a program officer at the National Academy of Sciences, LabX, Washington, D.C.

The Extreme Event game is an award-winning in-person role-playing game developed by the National Academy of Sciences' Koshland Science Museum (now LabX). With content drawn from recommendations of the seminal National Research Council report Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative (National Research Council, 2012), Extreme Event gives participants a taste of what it takes to build community resilience in the face of three disaster scenarios (earthquake, flood, hurricane) while working together to make decisions and solve problems during an engaging, fast-paced simulation. A recent evaluation of the impacts of Extreme Event found that educators see tremendous value in the game, their students have very rich and engaging learning experiences, and they continue to use the game extensively. The survey found that 85 percent of teachers felt that the game supported their teaching goals and helped students practice critical thinking and make real-world connections with classroom content. In these settings, teachers talked about noticing that some of their students were able to apply some aspect of the game experience to better understand or apply the topic or unit they were studying. Read more...

Using the United Nations to Teach Systems Science and the Anthropocene

REBECCA OWENS is a professor of geology in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Department at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas.

On May 6, 2019, the United Nations released a report detailing the impact of humans on the planet. The report garnered much attention in media outlets and on social media because of its dire evaluation of human impact on ecosystems and the repercussions on humans. Since students learn more readily when they perceive the subject matter to be relevant to their own lives, the public attention provides an opportunity for geoscience educators to create a more scientifically literate and ecologically conscious population by discussing systems science and the Anthropocene (proposed and increasingly accepted as the epoch in which humans are a dominant force on Earth) while exemplifying the relevancy of Earth systems science to potential geoscience recruits. In a 2016 paper, Kathleen Sherman-Morris and Karen McNeal interviewed 645 college science majors regarding their perception of various sciences. Except for meteorology, every geoscience subfield (geology, geography, physics) was perceived to benefit society less than life sciences (biology, chemistry) or engineering. All geosciences were perceived to help the environment less than life sciences or engineering. Read more...

NAGT, GSA, GEO-CUR, Totten, Stout, & JGE Education Division Awards for 2019

NAGT Awards for 2019:

The Miner Award, given for outstanding contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth sciences, was awarded to J. Bret Bennington of Hofstra University, New York.

The Shea Award, given to honor individuals for exceptional writing or editing of Earth science materials of interest to the general public and/or teachers of Earth science, was awarded to Marcia Bjornerud of Lawrence University, Wisconsin.

The Stout Professional Development Grants were awarded to the following:

Sharon Karackattu of Oak Hall School, Gainesville, FL, to fund development of cobalt-electroplated phosphate sensors used to investigate contamination of local water sources

Hannah Miller of Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA, to fund a specialized college course and do field study in the Bahamas to study biogeography and reef ecology

Marissa Isaak Wald of Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque, NM, to create a virtual field trip of the Rio Grande riparian area

Journal of Geoscience Education Awards for 2019:

The JGE Award for Outstanding Paper was awarded to Benjamin A. Wolfe for his paper "Introductory Geosciences at the Two-year College: Factors that Influence Student Transfer Intent with Geoscience Aspirations," JGE: November 2018, Vol. 66, No. 1, pp. 36-54.

The JGE Award for Outstanding Reviewer was awarded to Peggy McNeal of Towson University, Towson, MD.

Geological Society of America Awards for 2019:

The Biggs Award, GSA's award for excellence in Earth science teaching by undergraduate faculty who have been teaching full-time for 10 years of fewer, was awarded to Sarah L. Sheffield of University of Southern Florida, Tampa, FL.

The Totten Geoscience Education Research Award, given in recognition of outstanding research emerging from the geoscience education, geocognition, or related fields, was awarded to Cissy Ballen of Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

GEO-CUR Award for 2019:

The Geo-CUR Award, given in recognition of outstanding undergraduate research mentoring, was awarded to David Gibson of the University of Maine, Farmington, ME.

GED Division Distinguished Service Award:

The GED Division Distinguished Service Award, given in recognition of outstanding service to the Geoscience Education Division, was awarded to Chris Atchison of the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.


Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards for 2019

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards (OEST) are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of Earth science content with his or her students is eligible. Ten national finalists are selected, one from each NAGT regional section. Some sections also recognize state winners. The OEST Awards program is designed to identify excellence in teaching, recognize and reward excellence in teaching, stimulate higher levels of teaching performance, establish NAGT as a strong support organization for pre-college education, and, via active statewide and sectional programs, build a solid state, regional, and national liaison with administrators of pre-college Earth science education.

Read all about the 2019 winners on the NAGT OEST Awards webpage.

ONLINE EXTRA: A Review of A Hero on Mount St. Helens

By Lily Hamm, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY

In A Hero on Mount St. Helens Melanie Holmes eloquently brings to the forefront the life and legacy of David A. Johnston, a prominent figure in the field of geology. Johnston was an avid runner and loved the outdoors, but he originally took interest in photojournalism rather than earth sciences. It was not until he took an introductory geology course that Johnston realized that geology was the path for him. His college experience led him across the country where Johnston would discover his interest in volcanoes, particularly active ones. Eventually, his research would lead him to work for the United States Geological Survey and place him on Mount St. Helens on the day of its fateful eruption. Read More...

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