• 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. 5
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM


ANDERSON, Jennifer L.B.1, BEATTY, William Lee1, NOSEK, John2, BATES, Kim2 and FERSTL, Andrew3, (1)Department of Geoscience, Winona State University, 175 W. Mark St, Winona, MN 55987, (2)Department of Biology, Winona State University, Winona, MN 55987, (3)Department of Physics, Winona State University, Winona, MN 55987,

Winona State University has the distinction of being the first teacher’s college west of the Mississippi River and has always had a strong tradition of education programs. In 2003-2004, the two science content courses required for elementary education majors were completely redesigned through an interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty from the College of Science and Engineering (Geoscience, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry) and the College of Education. This cross-college, interdisciplinary effort resulted in a two-semester sequence entitled “Investigative Science” where the four science content areas would be team-taught in an inquiry-based, laboratory-style classroom. Labs were designed such that the activities would transfer to the students’ future classrooms and inexpensive materials were used to demonstrate that you don’t need a high-tech laboratory to teach science. The objectives of the courses are to provide elementary education majors with a supportive and small classroom experience where they can explore the science content they would need for their future careers and to help them become more comfortable with their own abilities in science.

From the initial teaching of the Investigative Science sequence in 2003-2004 to today, its design has changed to accommodate a larger number of students, the various preferences of the faculty who teach in the program, and ever-tightening budgets. The sequence is still interdisciplinary, but the first semester now focuses on Physics and Chemistry and the second semester on Earth, Space, and Life Sciences. The courses are no longer team-taught, but the faculty involved meet regularly for planning and support purposes. Two sections of each course are offered every semester, resulting in 120 elementary education majors participating in the sequence each semester. The objectives and goals of the courses have not been altered, but much has been learned in the evolution of these courses. There are still many challenges to an interdisciplinary approach to science content courses for elementary education majors. This contribution will discuss the challenges, successes, and lessons learned in implementing the Investigative Science sequence and will focus on the content, lessons, and course design of the second semester covering Earth, Space, and Life Sciences.

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