Earth Science For Elementary Educators
This course is directed at preparing pre-service elementary educators for licensure and success in the K-8 classroom. It uses past and present scientific inquiry into fundamental earth science questions concerning the structure of the solar system, deformation of earth's crust and causes of ice ages to investigate core concepts in astronomy, geology and meteorology/climatology. Students uses hands-on labs and field trips to build an integrated understanding of the forces that shape the world observable around them. The pre-service teachers also focus on how to relate the material effectively to K-8 students by developing, practicing and critiquing best practices relevant to this content area.
For Dr. Moosavi's reflections on the course and its design, see Earth Science for Elementary Educators: Role in the Program.
This course provides the sole exposure to earth & space science for pre-service elementary teachers NOT concentrating in science. This course assumes students have no college background with the subject matter. Students may be relatively weak in science and math with significant phobias regarding it.
Elementary educators in this course are assumed to be preparing for other disciplines such as early childhood, math, social studies, etc. In practice, however, many of these teachers will end up teaching multiple subjects including earth science, particularly in small rural schools or charter schools. It should be noted that earth science is usually taught in the middle school years covered by this license.
- Engaging in Hands-On Scientific Inquiry of Observable Earth Science Phenomenon
- Examining Large Scale Examples of Scientific Inquiry Leading to Core Earth & Space Science Concepts
- Developing Lesson Plans for Earth Science Content
- Performing Classroom Demonstrations
- Providing Feedback & Assessment of Peer Demonstrations
- Experiencing Sample Field Trips in Each Subject Area
- Utilizing the Internet to Access Earth & Space Science Resources
- Nature of Scientific Inquiry
- Earth Grid & Coordinates
- Plate Tectonics
- Earth/Sun Relations - Seasons
- Atmospheric Circulation-Local
- Atmospheric Circulation-Global
- Weather Forecasting
- Exploring the Planets
- Planetary Motions
- Moon & Eclipses
- Syllabus (Microsoft Word 30kB Aug22 05) Course Requirements & Schedule
- Classroom Lesson (Microsoft Word 29kB Aug22 05)Student Lesson Plan & Evaluation Criteria
- Kid Questions (Microsoft Word 84kB Aug22 05)Child questions answered by lab content
- Nature of Science Lab (Microsoft Word 32kB Aug22 05)Set Up for Course Scale Inquiry
- Unit Reports (Microsoft Word 83kB Aug22 05)Content & Pedagogy Summative Assessments
- Minnesota River Valley (Microsoft Word 27kB Aug22 05)Geology Field Trip
- Elysian Glacial Paradise (Microsoft Word 23kB Aug22 05)Geology Field Trip
- Jeffers Petroglyphs (Microsoft Word 28kB Aug22 05)Geology Field Trip
- Ottawa Bluffs (Microsoft Word 27kB Aug22 05)Geology Field Trip
- Andreas Observatory (Microsoft Word 22kB Aug22 05)Astronomy Field Trip
- MSU Weather Lab (Microsoft Word 30kB Aug22 05)Meteorology Field Trip
- Astronomy - Ptolemaic vs. Copernican Solar System Structure
- Geology - Evolution of Plate Tectonic Theory from Continental Drift
- Meteorology/Climatology - Theoretical Causes of Ice Ages
Pedagogical practices are also assessed through a peer reviewed classroom lesson and demonstration.
Final exam assesses content by asking "kid" questions any elementary teacher may face. See teaching materials available for examples.
References and Notes:
This course has been taught by a number of faculty on the MSU campus over the past 6 years. Offerings under the same name hosted through Normandale Community College serve the same objective but were designed independently. The material on this website represent the course as it was initially designed and will vary in some aspects from the subsequent activities of these individual instructors.
Science education research is rich in studies that address issues such as prior knowledge and science phobia that may occurr when teaching preservice teachers. Examples include:
- Dilemmas of Teaching Inquiry in Elementary Science Methods: This article addresses both prior knowledge of students and science phobia in science method courses for preservice teachers. (from Journal of Science Teacher Education).
- Beginning science teacher cognition and its origins in the preservice secondary science teacher programs: This article addresses ideas that preservice teachers experience regarding both science and pedagogy. (from Journal of Research in Science Teaching).
- Self-efficacy and alternative conceptions of science of preservice elementary teachers: This article addresses commonalities in alternative conceptions about science experienced by preservice teachers. (from Science Education).