Southeastern Section - 66th Annual Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 14-27
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


GRABINSKI, Aaron M., Geology and Environmental Sciences, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 and MCGARY, R. Shane, Geology and Environmental Sciences, James Madison University, 400 S. High St., Harrisonburg, VA 22801,

The next-generation science standards (NGSS) have been adopted in 26 states to help change the way that science is taught in the classroom. The standards have the potential to help progress overall learning and practical skills for high school students that will continue to help them post-graduation. The NGSS promotes the idea that a combination of practice, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas should be combined to enhance the educational experience. Our project builds an Earth Science high school curriculum from disciplinary core standards, builds in cross-cutting concepts from mathematics, physics, and computer programming skills, and develops practice in both mathematical and computational skills. Specifically, through a series of labs, we develop not only a set of quantitative skills over the course, but take a student from having no computer programming skills to developing confidence in being able to set up quantitative problems, write code to work those problems, and solve those problems.

The course is designed such than four computational projects are assigned to the students throughout the semester, each correlating to the topics being taught in the lecture part of the course. As the semester progresses, the projects become more challenging, building on the MATLAB coding skills from the previous labs. In the last project, the students evaluate a practical Earth Science problem involving climate change and human interaction, relate it to problems they have been exposed to in other core subjects, and solve it by creating a model in MATLAB.

The assessment portion of this project will evaluate how the students set up the problems quantitatively for introduction into the MATLAB code, how they solve the problems using MATLAB (writing code), and how well they understand the more complicated cross-disciplinary ideas presented by the end of the semester. This course will show a way to incorporate the NGSS into a high school Earth Science, strongly layer quantitative mathematical and physical concepts into the course, and develop the computational skill necessary to be able to solve these problems in new ways.