Earth Science Place-Based Education at the American Museum of Natural History
The Halls of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) are used to engage urban graduate, undergraduate, and secondary (7-12) Earth Science students in place-based learning activities. Place-based learning, which focuses on local and regional environments, has been shown to boost student engagement, be more relevant for students, and has the potential to attract underrepresented groups to science. Within the intrinsically awe- and emotion-inspiring, content-rich informal spaces of AMNH, each group of students conducted activities that drew on prior learning, and engaged in creative endeavors to meet learning objectives.
Graduate students obtaining a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree used multiple Halls to argue for fossilization potential of a landscape, explore plate tectonics, and find locations on topographic maps. These engaging activities were done in small groups and shared with the whole cohort in order to increase motivation and higher-order thinking as well as to support these students in developing activities for their own secondary students.
As part of a community college geology class, students were required to independently travel from Queens to Manhattan to visit the Hall of Planet Earth at AMNH. The students explored Earth evolution and processes as well as how the climate has changed. They often went with classmates or friends making it a fun and social outing. The MAT alumni teachers also traveled during school hours with their secondary students to investigate various AMNH Halls and complete museum activities.
The goals of these experiences were to increase Earth Science content knowledge and stimulate science interest using an inspirational local environment. Students participated in science inquiry and worked in groups in ways that were different from the typical classroom setting. These experiences helped students to develop an awareness of local cultural resources while increasing their knowledge and skills in an active and engaging manner.
Poster: Place-Based Education at AMNH (Acrobat (PDF) 6.7MB Jul8 20)
Powerpoint Slides: Place-Based Education at AMNH (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB Jul8 20)
AMNH Field Trip Booklet (Acrobat (PDF) 6.5MB Jul8 20)
About the AMNH MAT Program.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB Jul9 20)