2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


KLUESSENDORF, Joanne, Weis Earth Science Museum, UW-Fox Valley, Menasha, WI 54952 and MIKULIC, Donald G., Illinois State Geol Survey, 615 E Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820-6964, jkluesse@uwc.edu

Knowledge of earth science is essential to attaining scientific literacy and making important societal decisions. Recognizing this, the NRC National Science Education Standards and the AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy advocate teaching earth science for grades K-12. Formal and informal surveys in Wisconsin and Illinois have revealed that, unfortunately, many K-12 teachers are inadequately prepared to teach the subject, typically because they had little or no previous college training in the field.

Ideally, teachers should gain earth science proficiency as part of their basic education requirements. For teachers already in the system, however, workshops provide an excellent format for conveying the skills needed to teach earth science effectively, regardless of a teacher’s background. Workshops are especially effective in training teachers to use the recommended investigation- and inquiry-based instruction and to make cross-curriculum connections.

Based on our experience with workshops conducted by various organizations in Wisconsin and Illinois, we find that little of a workshop schedule should be devoted to teaching basic earth science concepts, which can easily be derived from textbooks. Rather, it is most important to provide materials and resources to take back to the classroom, to impart enthusiasm and demonstrate the accessibility and excitement of earth science, and to provide hands-on and field-oriented experiences that build teacher confidence in the subject. Museums and state geological surveys offer an essential source of workshop expertise and resources; they especially help teachers use local and regional data and gain access to materials not normally available in the classroom setting.