The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year grant to the Research Foundation for SUNY on behalf of SUNY Oneonta in the amount of $354,439 in support of the project entitled “Authentic Research Experiences for Earth Science Education Majors” under the direction of Dr. James Ebert, Principal Investigator (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Department), with Dr. Paul Bischoff (Secondary Education) as Co-investigator. The proposal received ratings of ‘excellent’ from all of the assigned peer reviewers, and was one of only 13 percent of all applications submitted to the FY2017 round that were funded. A brief description of the project follows.
This project will engage pre-service Earth Science Education (ESE) majors in authentic research experiences designed to deepen content expertise and immersion in model-based learning (MBL), a pedagogy proven to enhance students’ conceptual understanding. For each year of the three year project, a cohort of pre-service Earth Science teachers will design and build new models of Earth processes and concepts. Models are especially effective in Earth Science because so many geoscience processes and concepts operate on spatial and temporal scales that are difficult for students to grasp. Models developed by participants will be evaluated by New York State Master STEM Teachers and pilot-tested in K-12 and introductory geoscience college classes. Models will also be presented in “Science Saturdays,” in informal science education venues, and at science teacher conferences. Through the design and construction of new models to help K-12 students conceptualize various Earth concepts, ESE majors will gain valuable insights into engineering design. “Nature of science” and engineering design are important threads in the Next Generation Science Standards. These experiences will enable participating ESE majors to stimulate interest in the geosciences in K-12 students, with the ultimate goals of promoting majoring in the geosciences in college and eventually reducing the deficit of geoscientists in the workforce.