GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 316-11
Presentation Time: 4:25 PM


WYSESSION, Michael E., Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University in St Louis, One Brookings Dr., Campus Box 1169, St Louis, MO 63112,

Eldridge Moores knows how to teach. If you want students to be excited about geology, you don’t keep them in a classroom, make them memorize large volumes of facts, and then have them regurgitate it all for an exam. You get the students out into the field! You give them rock hammers and send them up into the hills. You show students the data and let them figure out how to analyze and interpret them the way scientists do. This not only allows students to become excited and engaged with the geoscience, but, ironically, in the end, they actually end up being able to remember and retain more of the geoscience content. Because they want to! Eldridge has not only influenced thousands of students, field-trip participants, and others (such as through his friendship with the writer John McPhee), but played a role in the establishment of the new nationwide K-12 performance expectations, the Next Generation Science Standards, which are now being adopted or adapted in over 80% of schools in the United States. Eldridge was a key member of the writing team for the “Earth Science Literacy Principles,” which consisted of 75 key concepts organized around 9 Big Ideas of Earth Science. This framework was very influential with schools, curricular programs, and political science discussions, but its greatest contribution was that it formed the basis for the geoscience content of the National Research Council’s “Framework for K-12 Science Education” and of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that came out of it. The NGSS have many innovations over the existing performance expectations of most states, including the addition of a year of Earth and Space science in high school (as well as middle school), and, more relevantly, the teaching of science by emphasizing the many different practices of science instead of the rote memorization of facts. It encourages students to learn science by doing science, the way it is done by scientists: asking questions, looking at data, observing the world, constructing explanations based on data, developing models, and so on. In other words, the new NGSS encourages the teaching of science the way that Eldridge has taught it for 50 years.
  • Wysession_Moores.pptx (28.9 MB)