Check out the newest Forbes Group publication in the Journal of Geoscience Education, led by masters student Holly White, which reports findings from a study of 7th-grade students use of the Hydrogeology Challenge to investigate groundwater. The study focuses on how students map elements of the HGC onto real-world, groundwater-related phenomena to reason about groundwater flow in the context of a groundwater contamination scenario. This research, undertaken as part of the WELS2 project, was made possible by a partnership with the Groundwater Foundation and teachers participating in a multi-year teacher professional development program focused on water education.
Congratulations to Holly White for successfully defending her thesis, entitled, “GROUNDWATER EDUCATION: AN INVESTIGATION OF STUDENTS’ USE OF A GROUNDWATER MODELING TOOL”. For the past two years, Holly has worked as a graduate assistant as part of the Forbes Group, conducting research on K-12 and undergraduate students’ use of the Hydrogeology Challenge to reason about groundwater, as well as serving as a teaching assistant for the SCIL 109 course. Prior to that, Holly was a student in the 109 course and UCARE undergraduate researcher with the E2FEW project. It has been a pleasure to work with Holly as both project PI and her advisor. Molly’s thesis study was conducted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science in UNL School of Natural Resources. Her committee members included Drs. Dave Gosselin and Trenton Franz.
New funding from a USDA-NIFA C1 Higher Education Challenge grant (grant no. 2020-70003-30928/project accession no. 1021842) will provide continued support for the WELL project, SCIL 109, and our team’s work in undergraduate education. Over the next 3 years, in collaboration with a team from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette led by Emad Habib, we will develop, implement, and evaluate a new undergraduate curriculum module grounded in an innovative, online, data-driven tool – HydroViz – through which undergraduate students use national water datasets to explore, explain, reason, and make decisions about contemporary socio-hydrological challenges in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus). The pilot-tested, research-based instructional module will then be disseminated to undergraduate instructors nationwide (Year 3) in the form of faculty development workshops, designed around core tenets of effective undergraduate STEM instruction, to support their implementation of these new resources in their own undergraduate courses. The new USDA-NIFA funding reflects the next phase of our ongoing work supporting undergraduate students socio-hydrologic reasoning through the use of data-driven, computer-based water systems modeling tools as a core feature of the SCIL 109 course. Check out the SNR media release about the new project!
The NSF-fundedCliMES project was featured last week on NET, Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations. The story provides an overview of the project, how it came about in Nebraska, and how the CliMES curriculum looks in the classrooms we’ve been working in. Many thanks to NET reporter Becca Costello for taking an interest in this project and pursuing a story that reflects perspectives of project teachers and the many stakeholders who have been involved. To learn more about the research-practitioner partnership that has made this project possible, involving UNL, NASA-GISS, and Lincoln Public Schools, please check out Chap. 3 of the recently released edited book, entitled Teaching Climate Change in the United States.
Forbes, C.T., Chandler, M., Blake, J., Bhattacharya, D., Carroll-Steward, K., Johnson, V., DeGrand, T., Mason, W., and Murrow, B. (2020). Fostering climate literacy with global climate models in secondary science classrooms: Insights from a collaborative partnership. In J. Henderson & A. Drewes (Eds.), Teaching Climate Change in the United States. Routledge; New York.
Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to contribute as a research team member on the National Geoscience Faculty Survey project led by SERC and made possible by funding from NSF. As part of this effort, I was fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Karen McNeal, as well as doctoral students Diane Lally (UNL) and Nick Soltis (Auburn University), on analysis of data from the 2016 administration of the survey to investigate U.S. geoscience faculty members’ reported emphasis on scientific modeling and systems thinking in their undergraduate courses. Based on a sample of over 2000 postsecondary instructors, this shows these elements to be more heavily emphasized by faculty members from certain geoscience subdisciplines than others and who generally show greater engagement with instructional innovation. This was a great experience working with a wonderful team on a unique dataset and we all hope these are findings that will be accessible and useful to postsecondary geoscience faculty nationwide.
The CliMES team is excited to share our first project publication, which appears in the December issue of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, a publication of the Green Schools National Network. In this article, we provide an overview of the CliMES project, as well as a primer on the findings from the literature review in which we are currently engaged focused on K-16 climate education. This issue, entitled Climate Literacy: Educating with the Future in Mind, focuses on climate education and includes contributions from an array of esteemed science education colleagues, including some of our CliMES project advisory board members. We very much appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this important issue and the broader conversation about climate education in K-12 classrooms.
Congrats to Diane Lally, doctoral student with the WELL project, for being selected by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) for a 2019 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. This award recognizes outstanding teaching assistants in geoscience education. Diane is currently a 4th-year doctoral student who, for the past 3 years, has served as a graduate teaching assistant for the SCIL 109: Water in Society course. Her research focuses on scientific modeling and systems thinking in undergraduate geoscience courses, including work in the 109 course develop and study the impact of course modules in which students use data-driven, computer-based water models to investigate water-related phenomena (e.g., groundwater, regional water balance, etc.).
An article describing our NSF-funded SCIL 109 Water in Society course, part of the WELL project, and its first implementation appears in the September/October 2018 issue of the Journal of College Science Teaching. In the article, we describe core tenets of the course design, present some findings from research conducted during the first year of the course, and share some ongoing questions and challenges associated with the course. This was a great team effort and it’s fantastic to see this manuscript in print. We look forward to building on this work with subsequent publications focused on students’ model-based reasoning about socio-hydrologic issues conducted in the context of the course.