2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
Paper No. 224-10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM-10:45 AM


CAPPS, Daniel K.1, CRAWFORD, Barbara A.2, PATEL, Maya R.1, ROSS, Robert M.3, and SMRECAK, Trisha A.4, (1) Education, Cornell University, 412 Kennedy Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, dkc39@cornell.edu, (2) Education, Cornell University, 407 Kennedy Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, (3) Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, (4) Paleontological Research Institute, Ithaca, NY 14850

Reform-based documents in science education call for science teaching that mirrors how science is practiced (AAAS, 1989; NRC, 1996). Unfortunately, few K-12 teachers have had adequate experience conducting scientific investigations, making it difficult to model scientific inquiry in their classrooms. Fossil Finders is a National Science Foundation-funded project aimed at supporting teachers in learning about and conducting scientific research, as well as enacting inquiry-based instruction in their classrooms. This two-year professional development experience engaged 30, 5th to 9th teachers in an authentic scientific investigation exploring how marine faunas responded to environmental changes in a stratigraphic section from the Middle Devonian (Hamilton Group) of central NY. The teachers participated in two, one-week summer workshops in Ithaca, followed by the implementation of the Fossil Finders curriculum in their classrooms. The workshop included several days of fieldwork, where teachers conducted research on the Hamilton Group and were supported in learning how to enact inquiry-based science into their classrooms, while making explicit connections with nature of science. Additionally, teachers collected samples that would be used in an investigation in their own classrooms with their students. During implementation, their students found and identified fossils to higher taxon (e.g., brachiopods, bivalves, gastropods), collected data such as size and fragmentation, and used the data that they and others collected to make inferences about the Devonian Sea that once covered central NY. A team of geologists and educational researchers supported teachers throughout the professional development as they conducted the investigation, reflected on their experience, and translated their experience into their classrooms.

Preliminary results from pre-post assessment data indicate participant teachers made gains in their understandings of inquiry and nature of science throughout their participation in the program. Moreover, we observed an increase in the amount and quality of inquiry-based instruction and explicit reference to nature of science after teachers participated in the program.

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. 531

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