• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


ELLWEIN, Amy L., Natural and Environmental Sciences, Western State College, Hurst Hall, 600 N. Adams St, Gunnison, CO 81231, NYMAN, Matthew W., Earth & Planetary Science/Natural Science Program, University of New Mexico, MSC03 2040, Albuquerque, NM 87131, CONNEALY, Selena, NM EPSCoR, Univ of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, STRONG, Mel, Earth & Planetary Science/Natural Science Program, Univ of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131 and DANIEL, Mary Jo, New Mexico EPSCoR, Univ of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87106,

Pre-service teachers must develop the science and data literacy skills they will need to be effective educators in less time with fewer science courses than their science major counterparts. However, pre-service elementary educators commonly have low interest and confidence in their skills with science and math. For example, many incoming students have weak number sense (e.g. using measurement tools, converting numbers or fractions, using equations, unit analysis) and poor data representation skills (reading a graph, constructing a graph from raw data, etc.). In general, the requisite skills for problem solving using data are underdeveloped in this sub-group of undergraduate students, yet part of their career-long task is to build those very skills in their own students.

We present earth science examples of how we attempt to build data literacy, scientific content knowledge, and critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as student confidence, through programs focused on the scientific training of aspiring elementary educators at two institutions, the University of New Mexico and Western State College. Classes within these programs seek instructional balance between delivering standards-based content, building science and applied math skills through data-rich problem based learning projects, and improving affective responses to science and math.

We also discuss outcomes from a June 2011 workshop, Using Climate Data in the K-16 Classroom, funded through the NM-ESPCoR Innovative Working Group program. Major questions raised during the workshop include: What are the skills K-6 teachers need to effectively teach science? What is the range of strategies and which are the dominant strategies K-6 teachers employ during science instruction? How can K-6 science instruction be improved through more effective pre-service teacher preparation? To address these questions, we are 1) developing an inventory of skills required for effective K-6 science teaching, 2) deploying a survey to learn the current state of K-6 science teaching practices, including the use of data, and 3) developing new flexible modules for content or methods courses for pre-service teachers that focus on building science and data literacy skills from fundamental scientific principles, such as density and convection.

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