CONNECTING UNIVERSITIES AND MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS: BRINGING EARTH SCIENCE INTO THE CLASSROOM
The student research-project design course, developed in collaboration with a middle school teacher, uses a different approach. This course concentrates on the nature of research and the process of science, and allows researchers to share their approach to science with teachers. Class discussion focuses on bringing inquiry into the classroom, including: comparison of field/lab science with classroom science; discussion of direct instruction and guided to open inquiry; helping students develop questions; designing experiments; graphing; data analysis; varied assessment; and multiple paths for presenting results. Participants complete the design of an inquiry based research investigation that meets their content and skill goals, respects their available resources, and leverages their administrative "setting." For each project: 1) students are involved in open inquiry within the context of the investigation - students make observations, develop questions from their observations, learn measurement skills, design an experiment, collect and use data, develop interpretations, and present the information to their colleagues and/or community; 2) the length of the investigation is "long term" to permit students to deeply involve themselves in asking questions and making sense of information; and 3) leveraging of the local setting is critical to future use of the investigation; creating a "one-size-fits-all" model will not meet teacher needs or gain administrative support.