Physics and Earth Science
Central Connecticut State University
Jeff Thomas is an assistant professor of science and science education at Central Connecticut State University. He teaches secondary science methods, earth science and physical science for elementary majors, meteorology, and various graduate courses for in-service science teachers. Previously, Jeff was a secondary earth science teacher for twelve years and he was also a broadcast meteorologist for four years. His research interests are related to inquiry, curriculum development, geoscience education.
Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects
Unit 1: How Do the Methods of Geoscience Compare with THE Scientific Method? part of Exploring Geoscience Methods with Secondary Education Students
This activity introduces geoscientific thinking to a primarily non-geoscience audience. This is the introductory activity of a module designed for pre-service secondary science teachers in a secondary science teaching methods course. Initially, students explore their conceptions of the scientific method. Through readings and discussion, the activity attempts to broaden the students' view of the nature of science by showing how geoscience methods differ from stereotypical experimental science. This introductory activity uses a seminar format (writing/reading/discussing/writing).
Unit 3: Discovering Curricular Resources and Teaching Interdisciplinary Lessons that Incorporate the Methods of Geoscience part of Exploring Geoscience Methods with Secondary Education Students
This unit provides pre-service teachers in methods courses with resources for teaching geoscience content and utilizing the methods of geoscience. Pre-service teachers will prepare an annotated bibliography of instructional resources in the areas of geology, meteorology/climatology, oceanography, and astronomy. They will select one of these resources and prepare a full lesson plan based on the resource that emphasizes the methods of geoscience and also incorporates interdisciplinary material from either biology, chemistry, physics, or the social sciences.
Unit 2: Climate Change, After the Storm part of Exploring Geoscience Methods with Secondary Education Students
The goal of Unit 2 is for students to apply what they learned about the methods of geoscience to complete an authentic and data-rich, lab-based activity to address the following problem: "To what extent should we build or rebuild coastal communities?" Students collect, organize, and analyze spatial and temporal data (e.g., changes in sea level, ice sheet coverage, and intensity of tropical cyclone data) and visualizations (temperature forecast models under various CO2 emissions scenarios). Students also read a scientific summary report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Using these sources, students identify relationships from the multiple converging lines of evidence to write an evidenced-based position paper to respond to the above problem.
Activity 2.1: The Issue part of Exploring Geoscience Methods with Secondary Education Students
Activity 2.1 motivates and engages students through the issue of climate change in a socioscientific context. This activity first assesses students' prior knowledge and then familiarizes students with a data-rich, interdisciplinary exploration of the human impacts of global climate change by watching a video about climate change, analyzing CO2 and temperature data, and critically reading an editorial about Hurricane Sandy.
Activity 2.2: Issue Investigation part of Exploring Geoscience Methods with Secondary Education Students
During Activity 2.2, students download, organize, and analyze geoscience data sets of sea level trends, terrestrial ice sheet trends, and intensity of tropical cyclones as well as forecast models of atmospheric CO2 and temperature trends and sea level rise. Students utilize the methods of geoscience such as systems thinking and using multiple lines of evidence to determine possible relationships and feedbacks among the data sets. Students use this data to construct their argument from evidence for a position paper in Activity 2.3.
Activity 2.3: Constructing the Argument part of Exploring Geoscience Methods with Secondary Education Students
In Activity 2.3, students make an argument from evidence to address the problem: "To what extent should we build or rebuild coastal communities?" Students work as a team to complete a graphic organizer. This task helps them organize an evidence-based position paper. Each student writes his or her own position paper.
Reasons for the Seasons part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
This two-part inquiry activity helps students investigate the reasons for the seasons. The aim for the first part of this activity is to engage students' prior knowledge by having them predict seasonal temperature trends among various cities (cities should be located different latitudes). Students then collect seasonal temperature data to compare their prediction to the actual data. Then, students make interpretations about the seasonal patterns of each city as well as among them. For instance, students could observe that cities closer to the equator have less variation in seasonal temperature when compared to cities further from the equator. Based on the observations from part one, students then generate inferences/possible explanations to explain why these seasonal temperature trends. The most common student explanations are: 1) distance from the sun, 2) amount of daylight hours, and 3) angle of the sun. Students are then directed to online data sources to determine if there is a correlation between the seasonal temperature data and the new data (e.g. amount of daylight hours) they collected. Students then try to explain if any correlations between (or among) the data sets are plausible. Finally, the instructor then can direct students to the actual reasons for the seasons (e.g. angle of incidence of the sun's energy) through supporting activities or lecture.
History and Nature of Science part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Course
This course examines the development of science, mathematics, and technology in order to understand our natural world. Specifically, this course focuses on the nature of scientific knowledge that is created through empirical, theoretical, and practical applications.
The development of my understanding of the methods of earth science part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
The development of my understanding of the methods of earth science Jeff Thomas, Physics and Earth Science, Central Connecticut State University My first job after college was working for a small, private weather ...