Innovative Approaches, Courses, and Resources for Earth-Science Teaching
Building science knowledge, identities, and interest using place-based learning to engage diverse urban undergraduate and high-school students
Rondi Davies, CUNY City College
Jessica Wolk-Stanley, Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, Bronx, New York
Victoria Yuan, FDRHS, AMNH
Julie Contino, American Museum of Natural History
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New York's glacial history and landforms were used as an anchoring phenomenon to engage a diverse, urban population of undergraduate and high school students through place-based learning activities. Leveraging the advantages of place-based education, we sought to make content accessible to students from a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds. Place-based learning focuses on local and regional environments and has been shown to boost student engagement, be more relevant to students, and has the potential to attract underrepresented groups to science. To fully engage our students, high-needs public high school students from the Bronx and Brooklyn, and undergraduates at community college in Queens, we used strategies that provided equitable ways of learning and demonstrating knowledge. Our students in these contexts face similar challenges: learning remotely, limited science literacy, and/or newcomers acquiring English skills. We used NYC-based analogies to describe glacial landforms and processes and asked students to develop their own analogies to enhance meaning-making and student connection to content and processes. Additionally, multiple ways to demonstrate skills and understanding were included (e.g. sketching, storytelling). These practices validate and reflect the diversity, identities, and experiences of students, and communicate to students that they are valued and their varied experiences are an asset in learning. These lessons were developed for synchronous remote learning but could easily be adapted for an in-person classroom setting. Our goals were to increase students' science knowledge by developing an awareness and understanding of the landforms that shape their local environment, stimulate students' interest in science, and develop students' science identities. Changes in science knowledge were measured using a formative assessment probe (Keeley, 2008), changes in students' interest were measured using the science interest survey (Lamb et al., 2012), and changes in science identity were measured using a science identity scale (Hazari et al., 2010).
Compass: Our first-year plan for improving the discoverability of online Earth education resources
Sean Fox, Carleton College
Ellen Iverson, Carleton College
Cailin Huyck Orr, Carleton College
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
Allison Jones, Sierra College
Kristin O'Connell, Carleton College
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The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) currently hosts materials from over 120 geoscience education projects and the majority of geoscience faculty report using their materials to support their teaching. However, the project-focused nature of the SERC website means that information is siloed and users have difficulty navigating the full breadth of the collections. The Compass project addresses this challenge directly. Its goal is to improve the discoverability of SERC-hosted materials as well as to connect users to earth education resources beyond SERC's own webpages. Along the way Compass will explore broader questions of how faculty explore web-based teaching resources. Compass is grounded in the principles of user-centered design. It builds on explicit understanding of and input from the community of users, evidence-informed evaluation, and repeated refinement through reflection and iteration. The project is engaging in annual cycles where improvements in SERC's discovery infrastructure are prioritized, implemented, and their efficacy evaluated. The project draws on input from a group of Community Discovery Advisors (CDAs) – stakeholders from across the geoscience education community – as well as coordination with NAGT through its Teach the Earth committee, and other outreach to community partners. The project's initial round of planning took place this spring through meetings with the CDA and informed by input gathered from the community. Here we present the outcomes of that work: the plan for the initial set of targeted improvements to SERC discovery infrastructure, as well as initial progress on implementing the plan.
Educational Resources to support ShakeAlert®, the Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States: Development and Assessment
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
Danielle Sumy, IRIS
Jennifer Crayne, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
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Over 143 million people live in an earthquake prone region of the United States. Over 55 million people (or one-third) live in Washington, Oregon, and California, face much of this earthquake hazard and risk. In light of this, the U.S. Geological Survey and partners developed the Advanced National Seismic System's ShakeAlert® Earthquake Early Warning system for the West Coast of the United States to detect significant earthquakes quickly. A ShakeAlert Message is sent to delivery partners to alert people and automated systems. IRIS and UNAVCO, in collaboration with the USGS and ShakeAlert® system partners at large, are developing a suite of educational activities and animations designed to inform and engage multiple audiences, from middle school students through senior citizens in a range of learning environments.The suite of learning materials provides learners in formal and free-choice settings with a suite of scientifically accurate educational resources on earthquake hazards, particularly on the west coast. Short (2-3 minute) animations and scaffolded activities address earthquake concepts, related natural hazards (e.g., tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides), mitigation and planning, and how earthquake early warning works. Animations show learners what to do in the event of an earthquake, how to respond to a ShakeAlert system message, and how the Shakelert system works. Each activity provides 5-, 15-, and 30-45 minute options to fit various learning settings. Activities address misconceptions about earthquakes, such as the relationship between an earthquake's magnitude and its intensity. Partners at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry are leading ongoing evaluation and assessment of the effectiveness of our educational resources and to help build our resources with cultural inclusion in mind. Here we present the ShakeAlert educational activities and animations, available through ShakeAlert.org, developed to date, and our preliminary assessment tools.
Water in Society: A Five-Year Evaluation Study of an Interdisciplinary Course to Support Undergraduate Students' Water Literacy
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
Silvia Jessica Mostacedo Marasovic, The University of Texas at Arlington
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To prepare students to address water-related challenges, undergraduate courses must provide them with opportunities to learn and reason about water issues. Water in Society is an introductory-level, innovative, and interdisciplinary undergraduate course offered annually at a large mid-western university from 2017 to 2020. The course focuses on both disciplinary concepts and civic engagement, and is designed around a variety of interactive, research-based practices to support students' learning, engagement with authentic data, scientific models and modeling, and collaboration and learning among peers. This study aims to evaluate, "how have students' outcomes and perceptions changed over four years of the course?". The results are based on data from students (n=212) in four consecutive years of the course. Each year, students' satisfaction with the course improved. Multiple measures are used to evaluate students' learning about water content knowledge, model-based reasoning, and socio-scientific reasoning. By the end of each iteration of the course, students improved their knowledge of hydrologic concepts, independent of their initial level. Students may need more guidance to use and interpret the results from the computer-based water models and develop socio-scientific reasoning skills for water challenges.
The Google-Earth GeoEd Video Library (GEGVL): a new, fun, and easy way to find good, place-based Geoscientific Videos for Teaching and Self-Education
Ning Wang, The University of Texas at Dallas
Bob Stern, The University of Texas at Dallas
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To enhance expert-made and effective geoscience educational (GeoEd) videos more accessible for teachers and students, we built a place-based, geoscientist-reviewed GeoEd video library based on the widely-used Google Earth platform. Earth science topics are typically complex in terms of location, timing, and how these are best explained, and are often related to a specific location or region that is intrinsically interesting. The Google Earth GeoEd Video Library (GEGVL) provides a "clickable" index of high-quality, place-based geoscience videos that are geospatially organized in Google Earth as a first-level visual index. The global map shows where the content of these GeoEd videos focuses, allowing students and teachers to "roam" the Earth to find videos about places or events that interest them. Our approach links student knowledge of key processes with places they know or that interest them and uses a platform that requires no learning curve. GEGVL also provides a way for geoscience instructors to quickly find high-quality GeoEd videos to use in the classroom. We are beginning to populate GEGVL. The link for the sample GeoEd Video Library (KMZ file) is https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UYy-Rn7V7Yp6AZ4plrZkZypHQ28nZohK/view?usp=sharingWe invite contributions to GEGVL from all geoscientists; please contact the first author for more information.
What's in the Water? A place-based unit investigating PFAS contamination in central NC drinking water
Kelsey Bitting, Elon University
Jessica Merricks, Elon University
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The drinking water contamination crisis in Flint, MI, in 2014-2019 raised public outcry and awareness of the potential health consequences of regulatory failures and industrial threats to this essential natural resource. But students and the public alike may see such sensational stories on the news and imagine that drinking water contamination is a rare and remote occurrence. In this poster, we share a newly-developed set of place-based lessons related to ongoing drinking water contamination with PFAS chemicals in central North Carolina. Using an inquiry-oriented approach, undergraduates discover how water and contaminants move through the global, local, and urban water cycles; how regulated and established contaminants differ from emerging ones; how animal and human health studies and their inherent ambiguities are leveraged in conversations about local and national regulations; and how power and privilege play out as citizens and local government leaders grapple with if, when, and how to take action. Throughout the unit, students engage in team-based discussions, data analysis, and literature research on these ongoing issues. The unit culminates in a community-engaged project that allows students to explore multiple avenues for engaging in advocacy and partnering with local community organizations. Our lessons are developed with introductory-level university environmental science and biology courses in mind, but could easily be adapted to a high-school context. This place-based unit is localized to central North Carolina and could be adopted by other universities in the region; However, PFAS contamination is widespread across the U.S., and we will offer recommendations for colleagues interested in developing similar lessons for their own local settings.