When people think about science they commonly conjure images of chemistry and physics. White-coated, white males, white lab walls. White. At least that was my imagery as a lad. Studies show that these impressions still persist today. Of course, it has changed and at least there are edges that now have some color. It is the space part, the white lab walls that I will attempt to break through with my hybrid class. And provide a great learning experience as well.
I have always loved being outdoors and, along with the strong sense of community that geology afforded me, was what drew me to the science of geology. And I think there is a huge deficit and advantage of getting kids outdoors and participating in more inductive scientific adventures. It is not all about hypothesis-ladened processes; sometimes there is observation, intuition, struggle before that most excellent hypothesis is determined. This non-linear scientific process lies at the core of field-based worked and is an experience that few K-12 students and teachers engage.
In my course I aim to provide a combination of distance-delivered learning experiences with a multi-day field project to build content and field-based scientific skills. My course will be aimed at teachers-to-be and classroom teachers. It will hover around the next science standards (called the Next Generation Science Standards), it will provide an authentic doing science opportunity and it will be fun. I hope to attract at least 12 teachers each summer although the more the merrier.
The content and field-work focus will be on earthquakes. Specifically earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest. Online learning experiences will include learning about: basics of earthquakes; geologic setting of the PNW, EQ mitigation and EQ preparation. There will be an abundance of hands-on experiences that can be modified for the K-12 (but probably more like the 6-12) classroom use but are also excellent learning experiences for adults. Learning will be assessed through discussion boards, small projects and a culminating group field-based project. Participants will also practice field skills such as data collection, organization, and presentation.
Fieldwork will be the face-to-face component of the hybrid and will be a combination of show-and-tell and data collection. What data will collect? In short, evidence for ancient earthquakes in the PNW shows itself by the presence of sunken and dead forests (called ghost forests) and layers of tsunami generated sands that cover organic-rich layers of former marshes. We will be investigating areas that are inland from estuaries that contain these features in order to evaluate the extent of tsunami run-up within the different river and estuary systems.
The link back to the online learning experience will be realized during the second half of the class where participants will further examine the data and produce a report on findings. This work may be publishable in regional and perhaps national journals! Additional learning experiences outside of analyzing and organizing data may be part of the second half of the online learning.