2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
Paper No. 224-3
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM-8:45 AM


KISSEL, Richard A.1, BESEMER, Christine2, DUGGAN-HAAS, Don2, PERRY, Sara2, and ROSS, Robert M.2, (1) Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, rak256@cornell.edu, (2) Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850

With increasing concerns of climate change, energy consumption, and biodiversity loss facing humankind, an understanding of Earth system science is an increasingly important component of formal and informal education. To address this need, the Paleontological Research Institution is introducing the “Enhanced Earth System Teaching through Regional and Local (ReaL) Earth Inquiry” program to educators across the nation. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF DRL 07033303), the ReaL Earth Inquiry project provides professional development opportunities focused upon: 1) Teacher-Friendly Guides to the Earth System Science of the United States; and 2) Virtual Field Experiences.

While popular textbooks focus on extreme examples of Earth science found across the globe, our Teacher-Friendly Guides are designed to help K-12 educators understand their local and regional Earth system science, allowing them to then introduce that material into their classrooms or informal venues. The guides are intended as not curricula but instead supplements, incorporating the students’ “backyard” into the Earth science curriculum.

By empowering educators with a heightened understanding of the local, it is then possible for them to conduct fieldwork at a site near their school in order to create Virtual Field Experiences, or VFEs, for the classroom. VFEs are inquiry-based experiences, not simply guided tours of a site, that have the student acting as scientist in an attempt to answer the question: Why does this place look the way it does?

The professional development component of the ReaL project involves a series of multiple-day workshops across the country. The workshops include components related to the pedagogical and technological approaches to the Teacher-Friendly Guides and the creation of VFEs. Beyond the workshops, regular communication is maintained with participants over the course of a calendar year, reinforcing and building upon those concepts. With four such workshops completed thus far, this approach has proven very successful and can serve as an effective model for professional development within the Earth system sciences. See teacherfriendlyguide.org and virtualfieldwork.org.

2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 224
Geoscience Education III: Professional Development and Resources
Colorado Convention Center: Room 201
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 42, No. 5, p. 530

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