North-Central Section - 39th Annual Meeting (May 19–20, 2005)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 11:40 AM


SHUSTER, Robert D., Department of Geography/Geology, Univ of Nebraska-Omaha, 6001 Dodge St, Omaha, NE 68182-0199,

The Department of Geography/Geology at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) has offered a summer course for in-service teachers entitled “Earth Science for Educators” for the past four years. This graduate level class is mainly offered through a National Science Foundation sponsored grant to the Omaha Public Schools (OPS) and UNO through the Urban Systemic Program. This grant pays OPS teachers' tuition to take the class, but teachers from other school districts are welcome. Teachers have a wide variety of earth science background, yet are expected to cover material required by the teaching standards.

The goals of this class include improvement of earth science content knowledge for the teachers; an emphasis on teachers familiarizing themselves with the earth science national/state/school district standards; and learning how to incorporate these and other standards into their classrooms in an inquiry-based approach. An emphasis is placed on the multi-disciplinary nature of earth science and how the earth science standards can be used to meet other science (and non-science) standards. This is especially important in high school science classrooms in Omaha, as OPS has dropped the Earth Science course requirement for student graduation, but kept the Earth Science standards in the curriculum. Methods of learning include traditional lecture (kept to a minimum), hands-on learning, and field trips to local areas that display certain geologic relationships or processes.

The outcome of this class is a teacher who is more confident and comfortable with the subject matter that she/he must teach. As a final project, each teacher must present to the rest of the class a complete unit of study on a topic that they were initially uncomfortable presenting in their own classrooms. These units of study are available for sharing with other classmates. Assessment of the class has been very positive.