Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 1:25 PM


ZOLYNSKY, Debra L., Science, Lake Shore High School, 22980 E. Thirteen Mile Road, St. Clair Shores, MI 48082,

The value of field experiences enhancing student motivation and engagement has been discussed for several decades. However, in their attempt to provide learning outside of the classroom, educators are confronted with various obstacles, including cost, bureaucracy, scheduling logistics, deviation from the prescribed curriculum, and a rigid scope and sequence. Unable to remove themselves from these obstacles, many teachers have remained indoors, tied to textbooks, worksheets, and other, traditional instructional methods. Although going outside for modern educators can be very difficult, it is not impossible.

Several recent developments in both education and technology have emerged which may provide opportunities for teachers to develop place-based learning opportunities for their students while mitigating some of the pitfalls related to off-site field trips. First, local field experiences, conducted within a short walking distance from the school, provide students with data acquisition techniques and an understanding of the nature of science: how scientists ask questions and conduct investigations. Electronic methods for collecting data, manipulation, and communication, such as digital probes, Smartphones, iPod Touch devices, etc., combined with web 2.0 tools can provide low-cost, high access techniques for educators desiring to embed “school yard” experiential learning into their curricula. Second, initiatives such as Virtual Fieldwork Experiences (VFEs) can be integrated into the school curriculum. These online inquiry-based experiences rely on data and images assembled by educators across the nation using Earth Science Literacy Principles’ Big Ideas to mold the overarching questions: “How do we know what we know?” and “How does what we know inform our decision-making?”

The focus of this talk is to discuss the obstacles of incorporating place-based learning into the secondary classroom, and the strategies and benefits of overcoming them.