Kyle Gray: Using Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity in Investigations into Earth and Space Science
About this Course
A 200-level geology course for pre-service teachers.
Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 454kB Jul19 14)
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
The students taking Investigations into Earth and Space Science plan on teaching science at the elementary or middle school level. Unlike many of their peers, these students are interested in science and motivated to learn more. They also are familiar with an inquiry-based pedagogy that eschews lecture for projects and student-centered activities. Even though this course is student-centered, I am continually looking for ways to improve student involvement in the class and provide new ways of connecting the course concepts to my students' lives. The activities in this module helped my students to see how the concepts applied to other regions of the country. In particular they were excited to compare our local river systems to river systems from other parts of the country. Through their experiences with this module, they came away with a stronger understanding of the factors that shape and influence a stream and appreciated the complexity of issues related to living near a river.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate MaterialsI have found that incorporating materials from the InTeGrate program has helped my pre-service teachers make the connection between their everyday lives and concepts taught in my Earth and Space Science content course. While working on this module, my students found the interactive investigations with the steam tables to be engaging and quickly developed an understanding of where groundwater comes from and how it moves through the subsurface and into their water bottles. They also found Google Earth to be an engaging platform that could easily be used to answer scientific questions. Before taking this course, most of my students had never seen Google Earth, but they eagerly embraced this technology and found numerous ways to use it throughout the remainder of the semester. For this module, they especially enjoyed using Google Earth to look at river systems that looked very different from the ones found near our campus.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
Investigations in Earth and Space Science is a 15-week course offered during odd-numbered spring semesters. This units within this module were implemented during weeks 10 and 11 as part of a unit on erosion and surficial processes, and marked a transition from topics on the solid Earth to processes acting on its surface. I have also used the materials from Unit 1 in subsequent teacher workshops.
I used the assessments provided in the module and then included some questions about the unit on a subsequent exam. The flood brochure takes several days for students to complete and ideally would be assigned in class with time to start the project and several days to complete outside of class.
This was the first time I had used Google Earth as more than demonstrating objects such as volcanoes or continental shelves. I found that it is a powerful tool that allows students to explore places they could never visit as part of the class. I have also found the section of the hydrologic cycle to be helpful when teaching workshops for teachers.