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

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM


LUTZ, Tim, Department of Geology and Astronomy, West Chester University, 720 S Church St, West Chester, PA 19383, tlutz@wcupa.edu

Teaching Environmental Geology (ESS536) is a core course for students in the Master of Arts in Physical Science program at West Chester University. The students are typically in-service middle- or high-school teachers, and the main objective of the course is to “provide resources and strategies for teachers.” However, the students’ prior exposure to geology and earth science varies: some students have little background. Thus, they must learn the basics of environmental geology as well as considering how they can best teach the subject. Within the broad field of environmental geology the course focuses on subjects related to the hydrologic cycle, which offer multiple opportunities to develop interdisciplinary connections and real-life applications, which are features of the M.A. program. These subjects also offer multiple connections to PA’s academic standards for science and environment education.

On-campus field experiences and longer field trips provide opportunities for the teachers to learn by actively engaging in inquiry and by practicing process and problem-solving skills; simultaneously they develop the practical experience and knowledge that will allow them to transplant the activities to their own schools. The course is taught in ten 4.5-hour periods during a five-week summer session to provide sufficient time, daylight, and warm weather. The students learn to see the campus as a microcosm in which the hydrologic cycle, watersheds and streams, erosion and deposition, and storm-water management can be studied. Through on-campus activities they become familiar with methods, materials, and logistics, and immediately begin to envision how it might be done at their school. Longer field trips may visit water and sewage treatment facilities, a USGS gaging station, a dam and reservoir, and a landfill. Each activity results in a report which contains two main parts. In the first, the students are asked to reflect on the activity as learners; in the second they reflect on what they have learned as teachers.