Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:50 PM
IMPROVING K-12 TEACHER CAPABILITY THROUGH A FIELD-BASED INTEGRATED SCIENCE PROGRAM
Insufficient science content course requirements and lack of science research experience in K-12 teacher preparation may limit the ability to understand science methodology and to teach science, reducing teacher confidence and the ability to nurture the scientific curiosity of students. Teachers also face grade specific content standards and standardized test requirements that do not address the integrated nature of science, so essential to understanding natural systems. For 21 years the St. Catherines Island Sea Turtle Program (SCISTP) has addressed these problems, providing teacher enrichment in science content and field science experience while modeling an integrated multidisciplinary delivery of science. The program is based on St. Catherines Island (SCI), Georgia and supported by Georgia Improving Teacher Quality grants, the St. Catherines Island Foundation, Inc., GeoTrec LLC, and Georgia Southern University. Program staff includes 3 geologists, the Superintendent of SCI, and 2 science education specialists. Teachers work in a total immersion program for 8 days as field scientists observing, documenting, recording data and exercising critical thinking skills as they monitor and conserve loggerhead (Caretta caretta Linnaeus, 1758) sea turtle nests along 18 km of barrier island beach. Fundamental geologic principles of Superposition and Cross-cutting Relations are used to “read crawlways,” validate, and conserve nests. Field lessons on coastal geology, barrier island evolution, sediment provenance, economic geology (heavy mineral sands), hydrology and ecology are integrated into daily conservation work. Studying the Modern Transgression introduces Uniformitarianism and the Laws of Walther and Steno. The program blends geology and geophysics, sea turtle biology and ecology, coastal environmental science and human history in a place-based curriculum in which teachers work as actual field scientists collecting observational data that is incorporated in a GA DNR database used to assess the status of loggerhead sea turtles. Teachers join a new learning community as they acquire content, experience and understanding in science methodology, an image and data base for classes, natural history samples for labs, confidence and renewed enthusiasm for teaching science.