2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 243-11
Presentation Time: 4:20 PM


Research Experience for Teachers (RET) is a program funded by the National Science Foundation that allows teachers to work closely with the best and the brightest scientists of the day on various relevant topics. The task for any RET is to take the research of the scientists and make it accessible to high school students of various abilities. The teachers get immersed in the cutting edge science of the day, which exposes their students to the newest things science has to offer. The RET program at Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s Haystack Observatory for the summer of 2015 was focused on the Cryosphere. This unit was designed to show students the practical implications studying ice, using real life data, and interpreting such data in the classroom. It focuses on the apparent changes in the cryosphere from past to present and its relationship with our modern day Earth. The Cryosphere is an important and apropos aspect of the direction that science heading, but is not a widely address topic in classroom.

During the creation of the unit, there was consensus among the scientists that most of the newly graduated high students were not prepared for the tasks required of them in a college setting. Some of the obvious faults that were noted by the scientists were math skills, critical thinking, and the ability to self-motivate and ask questions. This was something that could be and needed to be addressed in order for the next generation of scientists to move forward efficiently and effectively in research. To confront this deficiency as teachers, the decision was made that the unit should be created to help bridge the gap between scientists and students. The goals of this unit are to create and cultivate critical thinking skills, aid students in analyzing and interpreting data, help the students understand the Cryosphere role in climate on Earth and other planets, and allow them to make conscientious and educated decisions regarding their role as a citizen scientist. These goals were specifically met by through the various labs and activities within the curriculum. The intended outcomes will be documented during the 2015-2016 school year by the teacher through the use of data modelling, inquiry based labs and activities, and student driven data collection and research.