2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 31
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Introducing Inquiry-Based Approaches to Earth Science Education through the Use of “Teacher-Friendly Guides” to Regional and Local Systems

KISSEL, Richard A.1, ROSS, Robert M.1 and DUGGAN-HAAS, Don2, (1)Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, (2)Education, Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, rak256@cornell.edu

Recent approaches to science education have focused on inquiry-based methods, which emphasize the identification of questions about the natural world and the design of investigations to answer those questions. Teaching Earth system science presents unique challenges to inquiry-based methods because the subject matter is often found outside of the classroom's four walls and is unique to each community. Furthermore, student investigation of Earth systems in their community require that educators possess the sufficient content knowledge to engage learners in open inquiry, observations, and analysis. In order to promote the integration of Standards-based science concepts with local Earth science, a national series of “Teacher-Friendly Guides” to regional Earth system science are now in development. The series includes seven guides: Northeastern, Southeastern, Midwestern, South Central, Rocky Mountain, Southwestern, and Western.

By including the basic content and tools required to understand local Earth science, the guides will enlarge upon textbook principles by illustrating them in rocks, fossils, landforms, water systems, climate, and hazards specific to each region. Critical to the development of the guides is the planned interaction with educators before, during, and after guide completion, allowing initial prototyping and subsequent testing of the guides' usability.

Another component of the guides is the development of online virtual fieldwork experiences; this approach will allow educators to bring the field to the classroom when the class does not have access to the field. By providing these tools, the guides open the door to inquiry by encouraging educators and their students to apply basic science concepts to situations immediately outside the classroom. The ultimate goal of the project is for students to apply an inquiry-based understanding of Earth systems to their personal lives, thinking of and answering questions about processes in the natural world around them.