2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM


SHIPP, Stephanie1, HENNING, Alison1 and BAILER, Jill2, (1)Department of Earth Science (MS126), Rice Univ, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005, (2)Science Department, Jane Long Middle School, 6501 Bellaire Boulevard, Houston, TX 77074, shippst@rice.edu

A series of earth science courses has been designed in collaboration with middle school teachers to investigate physical geology, oceanography and meteorology, historical geology, participant-selected topics and student research-project design. The introductory, historical, and oceanography/meteorology courses are content-driven and designed to meet the teaching requirements of participants. Each class concentrates on a specific topic, incorporates data, links to educational standards and local resources, and provides materials so that participants can carry content into the classroom. The "topics" course is an investigative class in which participants select 2 to 3 earth science subjects to explore in detail. Groups research the topics, select activities, and present content and classroom materials to the class.

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.