NAGT > Professional Development > Workshops > Implementing the NGSS > Webinar: High Adventure Science/Explore Plate Tectonics

High Adventure Science/Explore Plate Tectonics

April 12, 2018
1:00 PM Pacific | 2:00 PM Mountain | 3:00 PM Central | 4:00 PM Eastern

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Webinar Description

The April 2018 webinar featured two presentations.

Explore plate tectonics & more through GPS data

Most students are leveraging geodesy every day through GPS technology embedded in commonly used devices: smartphones, cars, health trackers, computers, and many other devices. This familiarity with the technology provides an opportunity to segue from a familiar navigational experience of a GPS-enhanced mapping application to the scientific applications recorded by permanently installed high-precision GPS and other geodetic techniques. In collaboration with master teachers and college faculty, UNAVCO, an NSF-funded non-profit university-governed consortium, has developed a suite of free learning materials featuring high-resolution GPS data and three-dimensionally aligned to NGSS. In this session we will explore data-rich plate tectonics lessons as a theme of discovery.

Presenter: Shelley Olds, Science Education Specialist, UNAVCO
Presentation Slides (Acrobat (PDF) 3.2MB Apr12 18)

High-Adventure Science: Argumentation and modeling in Earth Science using free online modules

Science is not (all) about facts. There are unknown questions to be answered, unknown discoveries to be made. So, how do we engage students with those unknowns and have them explore the sources of scientific uncertainty? To prepare students to weigh arguments and make informed decisions, we need instruction that promotes coherent understanding of data, as well as the factors that influence how certain we can be of the data. The Concord Consortium's High-Adventure Science project has created six investigations for middle and high school students that focus on current, compelling, unanswered scientific questions.

Each free online five-day investigation incorporates interactive dynamic computer models and real-world data. Students use computational models to quickly explore the behavior of Earth's complex systems and develop uncertainty-infused scientific arguments. Students make claims based on evidence from the models, compare their results to real-world data, justify their claims, and describe what influenced their confidence in their claims.

This presentation will focus on how students' content and scientific argumentation skills are changed through the process of teaching students how to think explicitly about certainty with respect to data and the use of interactive models. Especially in frontier science, such as climate change research, or fresh water availability where claims can be disputed and changes arise as new evidence is produced, this level of critical thinking is a key skill for students to develop.

Presenter: Amy Pallant, Concord Consortium, Senior Research Scientist
Presentation Slides (Acrobat (PDF) 9.6MB Apr12 18)

Webinar Organizers:

Aida Awad (Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Edward Robeck (American Geosciences Institute)
Carla McAuliffe (NESTA)
John McDaris (National Association of Geoscience Teachers)

With the NGSS Earth and Space Science Working Group


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April 2018 Webinar Discussion  

Discussion Prompts:
1) Which is more important to you as teachers, fully-described, multi-day/week modules that pull together multiple lines of evidence as a project or the components to put together one's own modules (animations, demonstrations, 1-2 day lessons)? eg, what types of resources do you need? Please elaborate on your choice thinking about the pros and cons of each.
2) What strategies do you employ for helping students work with complex data and models? How can do you help students to critically think about data and models, looking at evidence for themselves rather than simply trusting the conclusions of others?

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Regarding Question 2: I've found that there is a great deal of confusion regarding the concepts of "evidence", "data", "conclusions", and "models". Like many ideas in science there are colloquial meanings for the terms that are not in all ways consistent with more specific, technical meanings (a good example is the term "bug", which in everyday use means any crawly thing, while it has a specific meaning to entomologists--a hemipteran). I've found it important to explore the meanings of those ideas with students (and teachers) as we begin to look at those relationships. "Models" is especially challenging as in common use it often refers to a "type" (e.g., car model) or an ideal (e.g., fashion model, model citizen). Even in science, the everyday use of model is limited to a physical representation that differs only in terms of scale (i.e. larger or smaller than the original). I find that the idea of mathematical models--representing the states and/or processes of a system quantitatively--is not familiar and takes a fair bit of work to get used to. The same is true with what is meant by the other terms I mentioned above. The challenge is to find ways to explore their meanings so students understand their attributes as they begin trying to generate them for themselves. I'd welcome ideas about how to do that.

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Hi Ed, I couldn't agree with you more. Understanding what computational models represent is new for teachers and students. It does take work to think about the limitations of these models, and to get used to the idea that in order to evaluate a model you need to compare it to other evidence. So, you see a trend in the computer model, does it reflect the data the scientists have collected? Where does it diverge, why that might be? Where is it similar, what is it therefore representing? Even beginning to explore this gets students thinking more about how conclusions can be drawn from models.

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