Many thanks to the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) Geoscience Education Research (GER) Division for showcasing our research and development work in the October, 2018 Geoscience Education Research Spotlight. Through funding from NSF and USDA-NIFA, we are fortunate to be able to implement a number of geoscience-focused education research and development projects in a variety of educational settings, including K-12 and undergraduate classrooms, as well as professional development for K-12 science teachers and postsecondary faculty. It is wonderful to have had the opportunity to build a connection with the NAGT GER community in recent years. I look forward to continuing to contribute to this community, as well as the positive impact this connection will have on our own project work.
In June, the WELS2 project team held our second 1-week workshop for more than 45 Nebraska middle- and high school science teachers from over a dozen school districts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Innovation Campus. Building on the previous summer workshop, teachers learned groundwater quality sampling techniques, used a computer-based, data-driven water balance model to explore regional water challenges, toured the Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory, and developed curricular resources to use these tools in their own classrooms. Teachers also had the opportunity to participate in the workshop as part of a UNL graduate course – SCIL 800 Experiential Learning in Food, Energy, & Water II. A special thanks goes out to colleagues Trenton Franz, Dan Snow, and Dana Divine for working with teachers to utilize extraordinary UNL resources and tools, as well as to Tina Vo and Kate Gibson for helping plan and coordinate the workshop. We greatly appreciate funding from the USDA-NIFA PD-STEP program and Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant program through the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, both of which have made this program possible.
In June, the WELS2 project team held a 1-week workshop for more than 30 Nebraska middle- and high school science teachers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The workshop focused on supporting teachers to learn to use a computer-based groundwater modeling tool, the Hydrogeology Challenge, and to develop instructional materials and supports that would enable them to use this tool within their existing science curriculum.
As part of the workshop, teachers explored the Next Generation Science Standards, conducted water-related investigations, learned about the scientific practice of modeling, and worked on curricular resources to support their own teaching. Teachers also had the opportunity to participate in the workshop as part of a UNL graduate course – NRES 898 Teaching and Learning about Water Systems. We thank our project partners from the Groundwater Foundation and Water for Food Global Institute for contributing to making this workshop a successful experience for all involved. We look forward to continuing to work with NE teachers through ongoing academic year activities and a teacher research experience in summer, 2018.
In a new video series from CADRE, a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program, I had a chance to share a bit about the importance of scientific modeling in science learning environments. It’s very exciting to be featured as part of a group, including Dan Damelin (The Concord Consortium) and Brian Reiser (Northwestern University), discussing this important topic related to our MoHSES, NE WETS, WELS2, and WELL projects.
Our team is excited to announce grant support for the Water Education Leaders for Secondary Science (WELS2) project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Through funding from USDA-NIFA and the NE Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, we will develop, implement, and evaluate a 15-month sustained professional development program for middle and secondary STEM teachers in the state of Nebraska focused on teaching and learning about water resources. This project is grounded in a partnership involving the UNL School of Natural Resources, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, UNL water scientists, the Groundwater Foundation, and six Nebraska school districts. More information about the project can be found here and here.
Congratulations to Tina Vo on being selected as a 2016-17 CADRE Fellow! This wonderful experience, administered by the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) and open to graduate students funded on NSF DRK-12 projects, will afford many productive opportunities to network and develop skills that will enhance Tina’s preparation for early-career research and teaching. Tina has worked on the MoHSES project for the past 4 years as a graduate assistant, first as a masters student at the University of Iowa and now as a Ph.D. student at UNL. She is currently involved in a significant number of research studies investigating both student and teacher dimensions of MoHSES work focused on model-based teaching and learning about water systems at the elementary level. She has also contributed to other externally-funded water education projects, including NE WETS and WELS2.