Geoscience Methods and Local Geology: Urban Teachers Engage in Authentic Experiences to Make Sense of Local Phenomena

Monday 3:00pm Northrop Hall: 340


Candace Penrod, Salt Lake City School District
In Utah, a western state well-known for its spectacular geology, many local elementary teachers lack the content knowledge and experience to effectively use geoscience methods to interpret natural landforms, processes and related phenomena. Many are unaware of the local geology that surrounds them that can, and should, be used to generate student engagement in Earth science curricula. This five-day experiential professional development workshop was designed to provide urban in-service elementary teachers in Salt Lake City, Utah, an opportunity to engage authentically with local landforms through a combination of field work and firsthand experience using geoscience research methods. The workshop focused on increasing teachers' awareness of the local geology and fostering an awareness of the accessibility of various sites and landforms for future student interactions. The workshop was held during the summer and teachers meet for 8 hours each day. Content was drawn from local systems and landforms, including: Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon (river-cut vs. glacier-cut canyon), Lake Bonneville shorelines (depositional environments of paleo-Lake Bonneville), and the formation and distribution of local oolitic sand (conservation of mass and cycling of matter). Throughout the week, teachers conducted field work, recorded observations, interacted with scientists, constructed physical and conceptual models, and used modern analogs to compare past processes and construct scientific explanations for local geologic phenomena. Ultimately, urban teachers gained more confidence in using geoscience methods, understanding Earth science concepts and in exploring Earth science topics in their classrooms.
Presentation Slides (Acrobat (PDF) 33.6MB Apr18 18)