West Virginias tech-savvy teens will one day be armed with the geographers latest gadgets for studying the environment under a new program at West Virginia University .
WVU faculty will train middle and high school science teachers how to use geographic information systems, global positioning systems and other geospatial technology in their classrooms. The teachers will then send their students out into the community with the technology to collect data and solve local environmental problems on their own.
The programDevelopment Of kNowledgeable Teachers: Geospatial Understanding in Earth System Science, or DON T GUESS was made possible with $150,000 from the National Science Foundation .
Science should be about doing the research, not memorizing it,said Jim Rye, professor of science education in the College of Human Resources and Education .There is often a breakdown between learning and application, and DON T GUESS shows teachers how to encourage young students to do their own research.
DON T GUESS is a professional development program to promote inquiry-based learning using geospatial technology and the new Watershed Dynamics program from the NSF and NASA -sponsored Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. GLOBE is an international science education program that promotes collaboration among students, teachers and scientists in the investigation and understanding of local environmental issues.
The NSF award is in response to a strong recommendation by the National Research Council that spatial thinking and reasoning be integrated in the K-12 curriculum using geospatial technology. DON T GUESS contributes to national efforts to break down institutional barriers at the university level and advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, as well as 21st-century learning skills, in West Virginia.
During a weeklong session June 14-20, 2009, 20 science teachers will have a unique opportunity to learn the Watershed Dynamics GLOBE module, how to collect and analyze data using GPS units and GIS software, and the most effective ways to facilitate hands-on group research.
Throughout the following fall semester, participants will join a live, Web-based class that uses real-time communication to discuss curriculum and methods that worked best for them. They will also have access to a support system of scientists, teachers and technology specialists.
Teachers need to be able to connect with scientists by exchanging information and addressing challenges and opportunities they have in the classroom, lab or environment,Landenberger said.DONT GUESS offers a training and support system that does just that, and the program could become a model for how GLOBE implements others in the future.
Participants of DON T GUESS will each receive a GPS unit, GIS software and a stipend to implement the program.
The course is worth a total of six continuing-education creditsthree from human resources and education and three from geography and geology.