University of Maine Summer Educator Workshops - "Teaching Sciences by Ocean Inquiry" was offered during the summers of 2006-2008. This week-long workshop for in-service teachers (high school & middle school) explored the dynamics of teaching science using ocean examples. Focus was placed on physical science concepts such as density, waves, light, sound, etc. Teachers learned to use equipment but also developed activities and teaching materials under these themes.
Goals were to: 1) help teachers develop inquiry-based units for teaching physical concepts (e.g., density, buoyancy, forces, and waves) using oceans and their climate links as a vehicle; and 2) develop a network between teachers, scientists and experts in education. During the workshop, teachers worked closely with the instructors to develop hands-on activities, teaching materials, and means of assessment to address educational standards. There has been significant post-workshop interchange between many of the educators and the instruction team.
Educators from ten states (GA, MA, ME, NC, NH, NY, PA, SC, TN, VA) participated in "Teaching Sciences by Ocean Inquiry." The workshop participant selection process used five dimensions to select finalists from among the workshop applicants (data based on the 2007 attendees):
- State of origin: Maine (33%) vs. out-of-Maine (67%)
- Location: "Inland" (60%) vs. "coastal" (40%)
- Grade level taught: Middle school (37%) vs. High School (63%)
- Teaching experience: "Novice" (40%) vs. "Veteran" (60%)
- "Novice" defined as seven years or fewer of teaching experience
- "Veteran" defined as eight or more years of teaching experience
- Specific interest in the ocean / Motivation for attending
University of New Hampshire (UNH) Summer Educator Workshops - The first COSEE-OS UNH workshop, "Seasons in the Sea: Understanding Change in the Gulf of Maine Through Buoys, Boats, and Satellites" was held in June 2006. It included nine high school science teachers, seven middle school and one elementary teacher. It engaged participants with new content, lab and sea research experience as well as new classroom activities to translate ocean science. Using computers and online data, teachers learned how the Gulf of Maine works, how it changes, and how those changes are monitored. Participants gained experience which allows them to identify and track seasonal oceanic changes by studying topics such as phytoplankton blooms, satellite images, changes in life stages of a larval fish, and seasonal migration patterns of large pelagic fish. (Workshop photos and lectures are available online.)
The workshop also combined educational pedagogy and cutting edge content to help teachers find new and effective ways to teach their students about the ocean. The workshop was evaluated qualitatively using a pre-workshop survey that uncovered which topics they had previous experience teaching. Daily feedback and final evaluation revealed that 64% felt that the conference was "Well Balanced" and 43% felt the workshop was "Somewhat Balanced" in terms of number of talks, computer time, time at sea, and collaborative time. A vast majority of participants rated all eight workshop activities "Excellent" or "Very Good." Participants particularly enjoyed visiting research labs and expressed a desire to lenghten the amount of time spent in the labs. 86% of participants felt well-prepared to motivate other teachers to participate in marine science instruction, and 79% felt well-prepared to give a 15 to 20 minute talk to other teachers about using ocean observing data in the classroom.
The 2007 UNH workshop, "Climate and Oceans - Using Ocean Based Data," employed the highly rated aspects of the 2006 workshop but with a new emphasis on climate change. The workshop continued its collaboration with the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS) but was held in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) program EARTH (Education And Research: Testing Hypotheses), a professional development program using real time ocean observing data for teachers in the classroom. The 2007 included 20 experienced teachers: ten teachers from past EARTH workshops and ten teachers from past UNH Coastal Observing Center workshops.
The 2008 UNH workshop, "Understanding Seasonal Change in the Ocean Using Ocean Observing Data," focused on understanding how ocean observing data can explain seasonal changes in the ocean. Teachers collected data at sea, learned how to interpret various types of ocean observing data, and practiced using cutting edge materials that connect the ocean to the larger earth/sun system. The teachers were asked to translate this new knowledge to learners through creating effective lessons for their classrooms. This workshop aimed to provide a deeper understanding on how the Gulf of Maine works, how it changes and how we can monitor these changes through studying ocean observing data.
University of Maine Semester Course - "Teaching Physical Sciences by Ocean Inquiry" was offered for the first time during Spring semester 2007. This pilot course provided a unique opportunity for marine science students who are interested in incorporating an educational aspect to their science backgrounds. Whether they intend to be classroom teachers, research scientists, or informal educators, these students elected to make an investment in their future by learning strategies to effectively communicate ocean science. It was also offered in spring 2008 (see course syllabus & handouts).
The course addresses three goals: 1) helping young marine scientists to more effectively communicate their subject; 2) encouraging science majors to pursue professions where they simultaneously serve science and education; and 3) creating a greater awareness among scientists about the need for outreach. In several cases these students had initiated their own exploration in education by seeking out opportunities to teach science to young people and/or the public. With a more structured and formal approach, this course helps them to refine and reflect on their educational interests and skills by introducing them to tools and concepts that enhance their effectiveness as communicators and teachers.
Instructors utilized an inquiry-based instructional approach to learn about physical sciences content and relevant ocean examples that could be used to illustrate them. The science content was balanced with relevant pedagogical strategies that are commonly used to teach science concepts (e.g., rich question-eliciting environments, discrepant events, student prediction and initial exploration, generating hypotheses, teaching measurements, explanation/invention, practical applications, problem solving/case study, deduction-transfer of learning, and simulations and modeling).
The structure of the course was designed to enable the students to reinforce their content knowledge, organize it, decide on key concepts, and then enlist the methods they could use to teach that content. The students were also invited to discuss the social, cultural, and political dimensions of bridging the gap between science and education. Students came to recognize that research proposals today often require scientists to explain how the research may benefit society and that such activities may be tied to the greater "Ocean Literacy" campaign.
Ocean-Climate Multimedia - Pre-college educators face many challenges when integrating marine topics with other subject areas. They find it difficult to fit in new topics such as oceans because their time and effort is focused on meeting learning standards and district / state assessments. COSEE-OS scientists who teach at the university level have likewise noted that they and their peers are often not well prepared to teach science using an interdisciplinary approach. In most cases, the result is a curriculum of discrete topics that doesn't provide students with a framework in which to view the "big picture." To help alleviate this problem, COSEE–OS resources are being selected to showcase fundamental science concepts which are mapped within a "big picture context." Our primary mode of dissemination to broad audiences is "The Ocean is a Major Influence on Climate" interface, now being developed.
As part of the development scheme for "The Ocean is Major Influence on Climate" interface, COSEE-OS teamed scientists and educators to create a series of concept maps. After several iterations, the overarching map was parsed into three distinct "views"; Earth-Sun System View, Earth View, and Close-Up View. These have been directly incorporated into the main page of the interface. Another interactive feature being developed by the COSEE-OS team is a mapping tool that allows users to directly retrieve, by concept, existing resources. This technology will also allow the user to see which of the concept administrative tools and the COSEE-OS database will be made available to the COSEE Network. This will give any Center the capacity to populate, update, and tailor components of the website for their own purposes.
As "beta versions" of the COSEE-OS ocean-climate multimedia continue to be developed through summer 2008, COSEE-OS will work with focus groups to discover how the various interfaces / interactions should be integrated to optimize the educational experience for formal and informal education audiences. Preliminary survey results indicate that providing "customized journeys" – e.g., tools that allow learners to pull topics from a "shopping list," see how these topics are tied within a concept map, and then progress through the connected ideas in a stepwise manner – may be a powerful way to reach new audiences with ocean systems content.
COSEE-OS Resource Review - COSEE-OS has completed its initial rounds of the educational resource review process using teams that each included a scientist, a classroom teacher, and an informal educator. Teachers were asked to describe what they look for when they are searching for lesson activities. The important elements the teachers focused on included cost, safety / age appropriateness, ease of implementation, and availability of solid background knowledge. The consensus from the teachers is that they prefer to modify or adapt a resource to their specific needs rather than using resources "as is." Educators noted that they are becoming savvier at "assembling" their courses using technology - including electronic notebooks - to coalesce resources from multiple origins. With this "teacher assembly" model in mind, COSEE-OS is optimizing modular and flexible access to its multimedia materials. Futhermore, all "COSEE-OS Recommends" resources will include extensive background material as well as information on "common pre-conceptions." Concept-centered overview slide shows will be offered along with relevant and up-to-date " Oceans in the News" articles.
In addition to showcasing excellent concept-centered resources for educators, COSEE-OS is compiling a "Gap Analysis" of resources that educators need to understand the ocean-climate system based on concepts from the COSEE–OS ocean-climate maps. One outcome of this "Gap Analysis" is to help science researchers better address "Broader Impact" requirements on NSF proposals.
More information on COSEE can be found at www.cosee.net.