Earth Systems is a web-enhanced course designed expressly for undergraduates seeking Middle Childhood Licensure with a science concentration. The course is problem based, using Deforestation, Volcanoes, and Global Climate change as springboards to explore the interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere components of the Earth system.
Participants work through real-world events in learning cycles. Co-operative learning groups are formed to explore the impact of the problem (Deforestation, Volcanoes, or Global Climate change) on one of the Earth's spheres (atmosphere, biosphere etc.) during the initial phase of the learning cycle. Then, new groups are formed to include representatives from each of the sphere groups, and an Earth system causal chain linking all the interactions between the event and the Earth's spheres is developed. Then the pre-service teachers have the opportunity to develop laboratory activity linking a related Physical or Life science concept(s) to the event they studied. Grading is based on clearly stated evaluation rubrics, and pre-service teacher participants complete a final project consisting of individual work on an Earth Systems problem. The course is partly on-line and asynchronous, that is, participants need not all be on-line at the same time, however, assignment deadlines must be met.
For Dr. Slattery's reflections on the course and its design, see Earth Systems: Role in the Program.
- working in cooperative learning groups
- student writing
- quantitative abilities
- using content specific pedagogy age appropriate to middle school
- research in service to problem based learning
- critical analysis of web sites used in research
- building connections between concepts in the sciences
- using rubrics to assess and evaluate student efforts
- building students' confidence in teaching science in self-contained classrooms
- developing students' sense of stewardship of the Earth
- improving students' sense of healthy skepticism
- increasing student excitement/personal wonder about learning about the Earth
- changing student attitudes toward science
Syllabus (Microsoft Word 31kB Apr19 07)
For an example activity from this course, see Destruction of the Rainforest and Atmospheric Oxygen.
References and Notes:
Academic Content Standards K-12 Science Ohio Dept. of Education 2003
National Research Council. National Science Education Standards . Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1996
Earth System Science Education Alliance On-line course website