Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


HEISER, David Mangold1, AGUE, Jay J.2 and SIRCH, James1, (1)Peabody Museum, Yale University, 170 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06511, (2)Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, PO Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06520-8109,

Benjamin Silliman’s collection of minerals from the early 1800s represents the beginning of systematic collecting at Yale University, long before Marsh’s dinosaur bones precipitated the Peabody Museum of Natural History’s founding in 1866. But there is another long history represented within the walls of the Peabody – the commitment by the Museum in 1925 to serve the K-12 school community. Today, the Yale Peabody Museum is known throughout the region as a trusted resource where K-12 students receive high-quality Earth science educational programs and experiences, and a growing majority of the guided educational programs each year are in the Earth sciences.

Given that teacher expertise and quality is a critical factor in student success, the Museum’s ongoing teacher training efforts are perhaps of even greater importance than direct interaction with schoolchildren. With funding from the National Science Foundation in 2008 and 2010, the Museum reached over 100 Connecticut teachers through an innovative Earth science professional development program. The aim was to improve their skills in teaching the Earth sciences and, specifically, the interpretation of landforms that result from tectonic and erosional forces. Activities included collaborative curriculum development and revision, content-rich summer institutes, field trips to local sites of significant geological importance, and the development and piloting of virtual field investigations. In addition, participating teachers received training in the use of the GeoAction kit—loaned materials and geologic specimens to accompany the classroom curriculum—as well as ongoing support from the Museum’s educators.

Surveys and focus groups found that almost all of the participating teachers felt they would be better teachers of Earth science because they were now more knowledgeable, better prepared, and had new materials that they could use to inspire students. In particular, many teachers were excited about being able to bring examples of local geology into their classrooms. Student learning was assessed using multiple-choice questions and short-answer science process skills questions, and results suggest that the significant performance gains observed are a direct result of teacher participation in the program.