North-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (2-3 May 2013)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM


RICE, Jane1, RUSTEM, Stephanie2, JACKSON, Susan3, MARKHAM, Laura4, MALDONADO, Patricia3 and ANDERSON, Charles W.5, (1)Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, 354 Farm Lane Room 120, East Lansing, MI 48824, (2)Community Sustainability, Michigan State University, 354 Farm Lane Room 113, East Lansing, MI 48824, (3)Center for Integrative Studies in General Science, Michigan State University, 354 Farm Lane Room 112, East Lansing, MI 48824, (4)Center for Integrative Studies in General Science, Michigan State University, 354 Farm Lane Room 115, East Lansing, MI 48824, (5)Teacher Education, Michigan State University, 620 FARM LN ROOM 319A, East Lansing, MI 48824,

Earth science, like any science discipline, can appear to be a million disjointed facts, or it can be seen as a few, integrating ideas that can be used in everyday life to make informed decisions about health, consumer choices, and environmental issues. We designed a course for elementary and middle school pre-service teachers based on a few good ideas, namely matter conservation, energy conservation, and the interaction between matter and energy. We call these ideas “foundational big ideas” because, while specific to chemistry, they also form the foundation of any science discipline. These big ideas were used to build a coherent framework for learning that was supported with targeted teaching strategies and instructional activities. We emphasized a conceptual understanding of these foundational big ideas as well as the ability to use this understanding as a tool for reasoning about science phenomena in a variety of disciplinary contexts, including geology. For example, we applied conservation of matter to the use of Earth’s material resources from mining through processing, manufacturing, and consumer use to disposal. We applied conservation of energy to the use of energy resources with the resultant transformation of chemical energy to thermal energy. While conservation may seem obvious in these examples, we found that college students hold many misconceptions, including a belief that mining is a thing of the past since factories can make everything people need. We also found that students’ informal use of matter and energy terms in everyday life often leads to these misconceptions, such as “we’re running out of energy”, or “we’re running out of aluminum so we need to recycle”, both of which can lead students to think that matter and energy can be destroyed. We will report on our students’ ability to apply these foundational big ideas to new contexts and to integrate them across disciplines, such as meteorology, hydrology, ecology, and human physiology. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of NSF (DUE-0941820) for support of this project.
  • GSA Presentation Rice.pdf (Read-Only).pdf (8.7 MB)