Northeastern Section–41st Annual Meeting (20–22 March 2006)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


SMITH, Joseph P.1, OLSEN, Curtis R.1, SHOPIS, Adam2, ZHU, Jun1, GREENE, Stephen3 and CHEN, Robert F.1, (1)Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences (EEOS) Department, University of Massachusetts, Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd, Boston, MA 02125, (2)The Richard J. Murphy Elementary School, 1 Worrell Street, Boston, MA 02122, (3)William Barton Rogers Middle School, 15 Everett Street, Hyde Park, MA 02136,

Geoscience education is an important part of any successful Grade K-12 science curriculum. An approach to incorporate geoscience in GK-12 science education is to use practical geoscience-based experiences as an integrating context for teaching general scientific principles. A simple investigation entitled: “The Spring Thaw: Investigating Radiation and Conduction of Heat Energy in Soil Cores” allowed 6th grade students at the Richard J. Murphy Elementary School, Boston , MA to predict and monitor changes in temperature over time at different depths in frozen soil cores placed under heat lamps. This inquiry-based lesson employed a practical, hands-on experience to teach the concept of radiation and conduction as mechanisms for heat transfer in the Earth's system. Understanding of this concept is included in both the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering/Technology Curriculum Framework (Earth and Space Sciences, Grades 6-8) and the National Science Content Standards (Physical Sciences, Grade 5-8). Evidence including student test performance suggests that the above geoscience-based lesson was a successful means of teaching the complex scientific concept of heat transfer to 6th grade students. This lesson plan is one example of inquiry-based lessons designed and conducted as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded GK-12 Watershed Integrated Sciences Partnership (WISP); a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMB) and three local school systems. WISP uses the local watershed to provide a common theme for content classes and experience-based field/laboratory modules covering both fundamental concepts in biological diversity and in physical sciences. The NSF funded Boston Sciences Partnership (BSP) between UMB, Northeastern University, and the Boston Public Schools seeks to further successes in science education like the example above by providing evidence-based, innovative, integrated programs designed to improve student achievement in science from 6th grade through the college level.