2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 8-7
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


GOCHIS, Emily, Geological & Mining Engineering & Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Dr, Houghton, MI 49931, GIERKE, John S., Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931 and MAYER, Alex, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Dr, Houghton, MI 49931

One method that has been shown to effectively increase knowledge and improve attitudes towards Earth Science in K-12 students is to connect classroom content to local sites that are familiar to students and provide observable evidence of Earth System phenomena. Many educators, however, have little formal background in Earth Science, are unaware` of the presence of local geoheritage examples or are inexperienced in the pedagogical practices needed to integrate these geologically significant places into their standards-based curriculum.

At Nah Tah Wahsh Indian School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a study was implemented to understand the effects of engaging K-12 teachers in collaborative professional development activities that promote place-based, interdisciplinary investigations at local geoheritage sites. Teachers first engaged in an exploration of geologically significant local places through a guided EarthCache™-style investigation. Educators then took part in a series of pedagogical-content workshops aimed at the collaborative development and implementation of an interdisciplinary inquiry-based investigation at the geoheritage site based on their content standards and student needs. Surveys, field observations and group interviews demonstrate that this strategy led to greater understanding of geoscience concepts among teachers, increased motivation by teachers to integrate geoheritage sites into future lessons, improved collaboration between teachers, and greater student engagement in lesson topics.