INQUIRY BEYOND FOUR WALLS: EARTH SCIENCE OUTDOOR LEARNING FOR PRE-SERVICE AND IN-SERVICE TEACHERS
Apart from the goal of creating a diverse network of contacts to facilitate the growth of early career educators, the objective of the course is for these graduate students to create high quality, hands-on, inquiry-based labs using scientific data gathered by middle and high school students outdoors, on or near their school campuses. In many cases, traditional labs provide the framework from which the inquiry-based labs are constructed. The inquiry-based labs also include case studies in which interactions among the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, biosphere, and the heliosphere are demonstrated, thus, treating the Earth as a web of dynamically interconnected systems. The inquiry-based labs developed each semester are implemented by the Master Teachers and the graduate students in their respective classrooms within their home school districts, and further evaluated for efficacy and alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), known in New York as the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS). Aside from training teachers to create a new learning environment for their students, the inquiry-based labs expose students to the interconnected, systems-based nature of the geosciences with the intent of fostering long-term interest in the geosciences, and, ultimately, influencing students’ career pathways into one of the many geoscience fields.
This discussion contributes to the science education community by providing an example of designing and implementing inquiry-based labs that align with the tenets of NGSS.