2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:40 PM


DODGE, Rebecca L., Geosciences, University of West Georgia, Department of Geosciences, Carrollton, GA 30118, rdodge@westga.edu

Field-based observations within an Earth Systems context form the foundation for the freshman-level class/laboratory Geology course developed for Early Childhood Education (K-5) majors at the University of West Georgia. Environmental Observations comprises an Earth Systems-focused, 3-hour per week content class and a 2-hour per week hands-on, inquiry-based laboratory. Interdisciplinary science content focuses on the Earth System's four “spheres”, the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere; data-based interactions among the spheres are emphasized to promote inquiry-based class projects tied to state standards. The laboratory course involves both in-lab activities (such as instrument calibration), online exercises (learning to access environmental observations databases and use mapping and graphing software), and field-based data collection. Field data collection comprises hydrological observations (e.g. dissolved oxygen and turbidity); soil observations (e.g. soil texture, consistence, and pH); atmospheric observations (e.g. precipitation, relative humidity, and air temperature); and land cover observations (e.g. biometry and land cover classification). Site selections as well as field and laboratory observations are made using scientific protocols developed by the GLOBE Environmental Education Program.

Observation activities culminate in the development of inquiry projects. Students also keep an observations journal based on observations made outside of class, as well as collecting and annotating a journal based on newspaper articles that cover diverse earth systems phenomena. Students are also required to develop and present a bulletin board or other visual display concerning the Earth System, designed to teach an Earth System science concept, or to promote observational skills appropriate for their chosen grade level.

Student work examples will highlight the effectiveness of environmental observations for engaging students in scientific inquiry though projects, journaling, and teaching presentations. Resource sites that were used in development of the class and laboratory courses will be highlighted during this presentation.