Southeastern Section - 60th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2011)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


COLBERT, Stephen, Wake County Public School System, Wake Early College of Health and Sciences, 2901 Holston Lane, Raleigh, NC 27610 and LINEBERGER, D. Howard, Science Department, Durham Academy Upper School, 3601 Ridge Rd, Durham, NC 27705,

North Carolina Public Schools has established itself as a leader in promoting Geoscience literacy by requiring an earth science credit. However, effective instruction of the Geosciences is not widespread within the state. We believe that a modeling approach will be an effective strategy to improve earth science education.

Modeling Instruction is a structured inquiry approach for high school science education that emphasizes the construction and application of conceptual models. The instructional objectives of the Modeling Pedagogy can be described as:

  • Engaging students in understanding the physical world by constructing and using scientific models to describe, explain, predict and control physical phenomena.
  • Providing students with basic conceptual tools for modeling physical objects and processes, especially mathematical, graphical and diagrammatic representations.
  • Familiarizing students with a small set of basic models as the core content of a particular discipline.
  • Developing student insight into the structure of scientific knowledge by examining how models fit into theories.

The Modeling Instruction Program is currently implemented only for physical science courses, but statistics show that, following expert modeling instruction, students averaged more than two standard deviations higher on a standard instrument for assessing conceptual understanding of physics in comparison to students experiencing traditional instruction. Similarly, Earth science concepts can be more effectively learned by high school students through use of models describing the properties and states of matter, energy, particle interactions, and the forces that make interactions happen.

Modeling calls for participation of university and industry based scientists and engineers. Such experts are called upon to contribute ideas related to current developments in science and linking cutting edge research to high school students through their teachers.

NC is already fully committed to curriculum reform through the “Race to the Top” program. Development of earth science curriculum in our state could become a model for a national scale improvement in public literacy in the Geosciences.

  • Modeling Instruction for High School Earth Science2.pdf (4.4 MB)