Page prepared for SERC by Steve Mattox of Grand Valley State University.

Hydrospere For K-8 Teachers

Steve Mattox

Grand Valley State University

Course Type:
Earth Science

Course Size:

Course Summary

Introduction to how the hydrosphere works emphasizing a descriptive approach. Includes river, groundwater, glacial, ocean, and shoreline systems and human interaction with those systems.

For Dr. Mattox's reflections on the course and its design, see Hydrosphere for K-8 Teachers: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

This is a lecture, lab, field course for preservice elementary teachers. No prerequisites but the course is required for some 300-level courses in the major. All students are Integrated Science major(certified to teach K-8). The course meets three times per week for two hour blocks. Some of these are in the field. Plus a required weekend field trip. This semester it was to Mammoth Cave, KY.

Course Goals:

  • Students should be able to increase his/her content knowledge about Earth Science and pass the State of Michigan certification exam.
  • Students should be able to increase his/her confidence in presenting science in the classroom or field.
  • Students should be able to increase his/her knowledge of methods used to teach inquiry-based science and assess learning.
  • Students should be able to compile existing teaching resources and to develop new inquiry-based classroom activities.
  • Students should be fluent in Michigan science standards and familiar with the MI Educational Assessment Program.
  • Students will work in groups to write an original inquiry-based field lesson for upper elementary students that utilizes quantitative data collection and analysis and present the lesson to local teachers.
  • Students will work individually to write a 2,000 word manuscript to submit to NSTA's Science and Children journal, specifically the Teaching Through Tradebooks feature.

Course Content:

The course covers oceans; topo maps; surface and ground water, watersheds, floods, caves and karst; glaciers; deserts, and coastlines. Human interaction with these systems is emphasized. We have 3-4 field trips to a local nature center where we are developing field-based lessons for elementary students (measuring stream velocity, discharge, and more) to be shared with teachers. We have two field trips to a major river (floods) and the Lake Michigan (coastal features and dunes). We had an excellent trip to Kentucky for cave and karst features.

Teaching Materials:

Syllabus (Microsoft Word 120kB May8 07)
Identification of Mountain Glacier Features (Microsoft Word 1.4MB May8 07)


Two exams, weekly quizzes, daily assignments (~55%)
Two written assignments (~30%)
Field trips (~15%)

References and Notes: