Northeastern Section - 49th Annual Meeting (23–25 March)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


VAILLANCOURT, Timothy S. and ANTONUCCIO, Kelly, Advanced Math and Science Academy, Marlborough, MA 01752,

In the 2013-2014 school year AMSA introduced students to GIS and Field Methods as a high school elective. The purpose of the class was to introduce students to geoscience, specifically the field work involved in geosciences. Additionally students fostered new skill sets and experiences for that could not be taught in a traditional laboratory class. At the start of the GIS and Field Methods course students were asked to identify the characteristics of a scientist. The results were overwhelmingly a description of someone in a lab coat, working with chemicals, who were conducting experiments. By February break students took a survey and wrote a paragraph on what a scientist does and looks like, the responses showed an increase description in field scientist’s jobs based off of the student’s experiences.

Students spent approximately 25% of the class in the field collecting data and the other 75% of the time analyzing data, researching background information, and plotting data on ArcGIS. Student opinion on the class was overwhelmingly positive for the field work and the GIS software. Overall student interest in science increased as well as the perception of what a scientist looks like. The idea of the scientist broadened as different types as samples were collected and analyzed. Boyle et al. conducted a study in 2007 which our results echo, “Fieldwork is good.”

Along with field methods students were given the opportunity to conduct research within the surrounding area of the school. Of the 15 students in the pilot class 13 completed original research on soil, water, and anthropogenic contaminates around the Marlborough area. The opportunity to complete research further increased the student’s opinion for the class and field work. The current plan for next year is to ramp up research and field methods potion of the class to redefine and build future scientists of America.