2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:20 AM


TREIMAN, Allan H.1, SHIPP, Stephanie S.2, KIEFER, Walter S.1 and FILIBERTO, Justin3, (1)Lunar and Planetary Institute, 3600 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX 77058, (2)Education, Lunar and Planetary Institute, 3600 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX 77058, (3)Geology, Southern Illinois University, MC 4324, 1259 Lincoln Dr, Carbondale, IL 62901, treiman@lpi.usra.edu

In the summers of 2009 and 2006, the Lunar and Planetary Institute hosted week-long field/classroom workshops designed to provide educators an understanding of the planetary processes that produce volcanoes, and the patterns of volcanism on planets in our solar system (http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/fieldtrips). Each workshop served ~30 teachers of middle- and high-school, and was presented by planetary scientists and science educators. The workshops include classroom background exercises, studying volcanoes and their deposits in the field, classroom ‘interactive lectures’ on solar system volcanoes, and many hands-on classroom exercises to carry back to the classroom. The field sites are in central Oregon, and include: High Cascade stratovolcanos; lava flows (basalt & rhyolite); air-fall and ash-flow tuffs; a cinder cone; a lava tube; a shield volcano; a maar; a tuff-ring; and a day at Crater Lake. In the classroom, discussions and standards-based hands-on investigations reinforced the teachers’ field experiences and extended them to other solar system bodies.

The field component is the centerpiece of these workshops, and is commonly the first time educators have seen or experienced volcanoes. Field exercises are designed to strengthen content knowledge of volcanic processes in planetary science, and enable participants to take ownership of the content through real-life experience. Educators are placed into the science process, asked to: observe an unfamiliar site or deposit, record their observation, and discuss the observations, interpret them, choose among interpretations, and communicate their conclusions. We strive to undo common scientific misconceptions, such as that the Earth’s mantle is molten, and that there are three types of volcanoes. Based on pre- and post-tests, most teachers showed significant increases in understanding, with respect to both fact and process.

However, the field component is expensive, requiring significant overhead (and support) for: preparation of field guides, transportation, food, lodging, and safety. So, it is important that these costs be justified in terms of long-term educational benefits, perhaps by focusing on pre-service teachers and teacher-trainers. Though relatively few educators can participate in such intensive workshops, they are an important part of a comprehensive plan for science education.