2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

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


WARNOCK, Andrew C.1, VINEY, Michael D.2, RATHBURN, Sara L.3, SANFORD, William E.3 and SWARTZ, David4, (1)Natural Sciences Education Innovation Center, Colorado State Univ, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1802, (2)Blevins Junior High, Fort Collins, CO 80526, (3)Dept. of Geosciences, Colorado State Univ, Fort Collins, CO 80523, (4)Rocky Mtn. High, Fort Collins, CO 80526, andrew.warnock@colostate.edu

As part of the broader impacts portion of an NSF grant to CSU that allowed us to build an on-campus groundwater well field beside a creek, we designed a professional development program to entice K-12 teachers to bring their students to the site. The program consists of a summer workshop, online discussions, a DVD, a website, and classroom and field equipment for loans. The workshops were three days in length and earned the teachers credit and a stipend. Workshop topics were summarized on a concept web and all relevant state standard and assessment requirements were identified. Nightly reading assignments covered basic water concepts and included several journal articles on alternative student conceptions. The basic workshop structure consisted of pre-field classroom activities, field activities, and post-field data analysis and communication. The pre-field activities focused on the water cycle and modeling two simple groundwater scenarios. Field activities were divided into six separate but related studies, each with a backpack of field equipment and an all-weather field book containing concise instructions and tips for interpreting data as they are recorded. Post-field activities focused on data analysis. Data can be shared and communicated by creating mini eBooks using special publishing software. After the first year of the workshop, we realized that teachers had an extremely small amount of time to devote to water. As a result, we repackaged the fieldwork and restricted freedom of inquiry in favor of quickly collecting easy-to-interpret data. Teachers will now have minimal stress in the field, as each backpack is largely self-guided. Our hope is that students will have enough time in the classroom for open-ended inquiry as they interpret and discuss data, which is an essential part of the nature of science.