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. 2
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Online Inquiry-Based Earth System Science Resource for Engaging Middle and High School Students

ALEXANDER, George W.1, NARKIEWICZ, Marielle R.1, NELSON, Wendy R.2, FURMAN, Tanya3 and GUERTIN, Laura A.4, (1)Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, (2)Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, (3)Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, 333 Deike Building, University Park, PA 16802, (4)Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063, gwa104@psu.edu

The Transforming Earth System Science Education (TESSE) program brings together middle and high school teachers, graduate students, and university faculty for a workshop that assists teachers in providing their students an integrated, inquiry-based approach to coursework and research. The role of the graduate students is to act as science content experts and aid the teachers in incorporating Earth system science content. However, it is not always possible for the graduate students to travel to the high schools to assist in the classroom and provide content when needed. In order to bridge scheduling and travel challenges as well as create a long-term resource for future students and teachers beyond the TESSE program, a unique website for Pennsylvania students is being developed. The site provides background material on the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere, reinforcing in the curriculum how the Earth acts as a system. This website is designed to facilitate discussion through the study of local geologic features. Developing the material then from the local to regional scale may engage students into a broader context of Earth sciences.

Working with university faculty, graduate students are integrating web-based learning with the needs and interests of each classroom via video, PowerPoint slides, Excel-based applications, and classroom discussion. A “Rock pals” project will be a follow-up stage to getting hands-on with local geology by having participating classrooms from different regions exchange rocks and minerals. This will begin a mechanism of applying local knowledge to larger-scale geologic features as well as other spheres. Through the partnership between universities and middle/high schools and the incorporation of local-to-regional scale Earth Science, students will hopefully be more engaged, walking away with greater enthusiasm and understanding of our surroundings and the complexities of the Earth's systems.