2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


POWELL, Wayne, Geology, Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210, MIELE, Eleanor, School of Education, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210, BRODBAR, Stephen, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024 and MACDONALD, Maritza, Education, American Museum of Natural History, 79th Street & Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, wpowell@brooklyn.cuny.edu

It is insufficient to inform teachers of the current state of our science because it evolves continuously; we must also empower teachers with skills to integrate new discoveries. The NSF-funded Project TRUST (Teacher Renewal for Urban Science Teaching) is a collaboration of Brooklyn and Lehman colleges and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). At Brooklyn College, a set of 3 TRUST-related courses provide teachers with 9 credits in earth and space science. Teachers begin with “Earth Science and the NYC Urban Environment” which aims to interconnect aspects of earth history, geomorphology, petrology, and climatology with NYC's economic and cultural history. At the heart of the course are 4 field trips (Central Park, Prospect Park, Lower Manhattan, Metropolitan Museum of Art) to experience geology in natural and built contexts. Teachers learn about their own environment, as well as how to document field experiences in order to pass-on the experience to students and colleagues by creating “walking tour” guidebooks. Teachers then take part in a 2-week summer institute led by AMNH scientists. Exhibits and artifacts at the museum are integrated into earth and space science learning, and scientists interact informally with teachers daily. Assessment is journal-based; they record their understanding of delivered content, as well as questions and aspects of confusion. Furthermore, they are required to annotate their journals with answers from discussions with scientists or independent research. Finally, during “Seminars in Earth Science” they attend 7 public lectures on earth and space science at various venues (e.g., museums, NY Academy of Science, colleges). Prior to each lecture, students research the speaker's background and the general lecture topic. Again, students record questions that arise during the talks, and are required to resolve them through research or communication with scientists or peers. In-class sessions focus on developing research skills, and aid their integration of the new information into their earth science knowledge base. Through these repeated journaling activities and interaction with scientists teachers not only learn the content, but gain familiarity with informal learning resources, and broaden their ability and confidence to add to their scientific knowledge on their own.