THE DISCOVERIES IN GEOSCIENCES (DIG) FIELD SCHOOL: CONNECTING TEACHERS WITH RESEARCHERS AND MUSEUMS TO INSPIRE STUDENTS WITH REAL SCIENCE IN THE CLASSROOM
Central to the DIG is a four-day, hands-on, immersive field experience for teachers at an active research site in the Hell Creek badlands of northeastern Montana. Teachers are instructed in and engage in paleontology and geology activities of the field research team while also drawing connections between the ongoing research on the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction and relevant cross-cutting concepts and scientific practices of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The field school is the capstone experience of the DIG, but the program extends beyond the time spent in the field by providing teachers ongoing educational support throughout the school year. We do this through a variety of methods including specialized curriculum development and education tools (e.g., our traveling “museum in a box”), online lesson plans that implement the current NGSS, and classroom and museum visits. Teachers can also maintain and build their knowledge and enthusiasm for the science through additional opportunities to engage in research activities in the museum and laboratory. As such, the DIG has grown into an effective model for combining scientific research and museum resources to provide a powerful educational outreach program for promoting science as a process among teachers and their classrooms.