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.
It was a big summer of transition in the Forbes team, with team members moving on to next steps and new team members coming on board. Congrats to newly-minted Ph.D. Tina Vo who will begin a tenure-track position at UNLV as an Assistant Professor of Science Education in August. Dante Cisterna, UnICORN project postdoc, is also starting a new position at ETS in July. Destini Petitt completed her M.S. in the School of Natural Resources and will begin doctoral studies in the Dept. of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Ashley (McKenzie) Sutter (formerly Peterson), will leave us for a second time to return to her position with USDA. And, finally, Florian Böschl, doctoral student at the University of Leipzig in Germany, will return home after a summer in Lincoln. We wish them all the best!
Joining the team are two new SNR doctoral students, Amie Sommers and Kim Carroll-Steward, undergraduate research assistant Brooke Mott, and incoming postdoctoral researcher Ranu Roy, who recently completed her Ph.D. at Indiana University. They join a fantastic continuing group of team members, including SNR doctoral student Diane Lally, postdoc Devarati Bhattacharya, and undergraduate research assistants Holly White, Isabella Catalano, and Nancy Theodor.
Over the past year, our team has had the opportunity to work with teachers from Beatrice Middle School and Lourdes Central Catholic School in Nebraska City on a new pilot project using wind energy systems as a vehicle for teaching core, NGSS-based STEM concepts and decision-making about socio-scientific issues. The project involves development of a 2-week mini-unit grounded in ongoing, real-world discussions about the recently-proposed Hallam Wind farm in SE Nebraska. The mini-unit involves investigations of wind turbine design and power production, as well as analysis of stakeholder perspectives and policy issues. The curriculum was implemented in three 6th-grade classrooms this month, including those highlighted in this week’s story by the Beatrice Daily Sun. Research associated with this project, led up by SNR masters student McKinzie Peterson and conducted in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jan Christoph Schubert from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, will investigate students’ problem-framing and science-informed decision-making about wind energy production in Nebraska. Thanks also to Chad Johnson at Nebraska Public Power District for collaborating on this project.
It has been a pleasure to host Mike Barnett as a visiting scholar at UNL over the past few days. Dr. Barnett is Professor of Science Education and Technology in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. As the inaugural participant in the 2015 Science Literacy Initiative Seminar Series, he had an opportunity to give an invited presentation, entitled Seeding the Future: Examining learning about urban ecosystems through learning technologies and community partnerships. Dr. Barnett also engaged with faculty and students from both East and City campuses, contributed to faculty working groups convened in support of the Science Literacy Initiative, and even got to visit Nine-Mile Prairie with Dave Wedin, Doug Golick, and myself. It was wonderful to learn of the great work Dr. Barnett and his team are doing at BC. We all appreciate his willingness to travel to Lincoln immediately after returning from a week-long trip to China.
On Wednesday, September 3rd, I presented some of our work as part of the Fall 2014 SNR Seminar Series. In the talk, entitled, “Discipline-based Education Research on Teaching and Learning in Elementary Science Learning Environments”, I discussed the MoHSES, RAES, and UnICORN projects, all focused on elementary (K-6) science, from a disciplinary perspective. The seminar was a fantastic opportunity to share more about our work with SNR colleagues and I appreciate the interest of all who attended.