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.
For the past 4 years, with support from the NSF and now USDA-NIFA, we have developed and offered (annually) a new interdisciplinary, introductory-level undergraduate water course for UNL students – Water in Society (SCIL 109). The 109 course is highly innovative and touches on many of today’s most pressing water-related challenges in Nebraska and beyond. Now, through through the Big Ten Academic Alliance Online Course Sharing Program and Nebraska Now programs, we are excited to be able to offer an online version of this course to undergraduate students from other institutions and upper-level high school students in spring, 2021. Through Nebraska Now, current high school students are able to enroll in the course for a significantly reduced tuition rate ($330) and, if they receive a B or better, will be eligible for a $1000 merit-based scholarship to UNL. Completion of the Water in Society course will also help students meet UNL undergraduate general education requirements (either ACE 4 or 8). As part of BTTA, undergraduate students at Indiana University, the University of Maryland, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Rutgers University-New Brunswick may enroll in this UNL-based course with all associated tuition and fees waived. In spring, 2021, the 109 course will be 100% online and asynchronous, giving students maximum flexibility to complete the course at their own pace from anywhere with support from a fantastic instructional team.
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 7 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Prof. Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert, a colleague from Germany, on work related to models and modeling in elementary science classrooms. Springboarding, in part, from our earlier work on the MoHSES project, as well as a CEHS international travel fellowship awarded to former graduate student and now Assistant Professor Tina Vo, this ongoing collaboration yielded two more publications in 2019. The first is a practitioner-focused article in a German publication discussing the importance and role of models and modeling in the early grades. The second is a reporting of some smaller-scale work with students in Germany and articulation/elaboration of our underlying conceptual framework for model-based teaching and learning. We look forward to continuing this collaborative endeavor and important work yet to come.
For the last four years, the UnICORN project has afforded an opportunity to enhance and engage in research on teaching and learning about inheritance in elementary science through curriculum development and professional development for teachers. Through the implementation of a model-based curriculum, early learners in Nebraska have been afforded opportunities to use corn as a model organism to develop understanding of basic concepts of heredity and genetics using corn as a model organism. Two papers were recently published based upon this work which describe students’ understanding of core, NGSS-aligned target concepts and the relative impact of the curriculum on target outcomes in consecutive project years.
I am very excited to share that ongoing endeavors I have led over the past 3 years to build a transdisciplinary community focused on education and education research grounded in the FEW-Nexus will be supported for the upcoming 5 years through a Research Coordination Networks (RCN) grant from the National Science Foundation. The project – INFEWS/T3 RCN: Cultivating a National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW; NSF-1856040) is co-funded through the Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) program and education core research program (ECR) through Education and Human Resources (EHR). NC-FEW involves faculty from across the U.S. and is led by an amazing NC-FEW team, members of which have been working together since the beginning through prior early-stage funding from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award #1006539 and #2017-06281, the Network of STEM Education Centers/APLU (NSEC), the Agricultural Research Division at the University of Nebraska, and Virginia Tech in the National Capital Region (NCR). Stay tuned for information about future conferences, webinars, newsletters, and other community activities. Want to find out more? Check out the brand-new NC-FEW website and join us to get involved!