INVOLVING STAKEHOLDERS IN DEVELOPING WEB-BASED OUTREACH RESOURCES: AN EXAMPLE FROM THE MGRRE EDUCATION PORTAL
The Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education (MGRRE), part of the Michigan Geological Survey, maintains an extensive collection of subsurface rock and sediment samples, fossil collections, and chemical and geophysical datasets. We are creating a web-based Education Portal that when fully developed will engage K-12 students in investigating real-world problems using authentic, local subsurface data. With funding from an internal grant, we brought stakeholders to three preliminary planning workshops. The first workshop explored the resources at MGRRE, developed a vision of the portal interface and design, and identified datasets that best match current lessons and align to state and national standards. At the second workshop, we developed an initial set of activities based on an exemplar core and associated datasets. At the third workshop, we pilot tested two portal activities.
Sixteen individuals, dominantly middle and high school teachers, were engaged in shaping the vision and content of the portal through our workshops. For example, teachers were excited by a place-oriented approach that focused on geological data “underneath” their schools. Teachers want to use authentic datasets, but they stressed preparing a collection of classroom-tested example lessons as a resource for less experienced users. Topics of interest included how scientists: study cores, identify fossils in cores (matching 2D fossil slices to 3D fossil models), use stratigraphic principles to determine the sequence of geologic events, and relate porosity and permeability to economic resources. Bringing potential stakeholders to the workshops provided valuable feedback in planning and developing new online resources. It also provided a cadre of teachers willing to classroom test the portal once it is constructed.