Communication Center  Conference  Projects Share  Reports from the Field Resources  Library  LSC Project Websites  NSF Program Notes
 How to Use this site    Contact us  LSC-Net: Local Systemic Change Network
Best Practices

Queries and Replies


Bulletin Board

Discussion: Science Instructional Materials for Middle School: Informing Future Initiatives

 previous post
 next post
 main /index
posted by: Richard Dinko on August 30, 1999 at 11:15AM
subject: Real World Earth Science, etc?
In response to Linda's question about AGI, etc.

AGI (American Geological Institute) is finalizing a secondary curricular
package called EarthComm which focuses on the study of earth science from a
local perspective. We are part of the piloting right now and we like what
we see so far.

AGI also developed a middle school curriculum originally called EarthWorks
(the name may change). It was in some form of field testing last year. It
was going to be published by Carolina but they are now not going to publish
it. I believe "It's About Time Publishing" (publishers of Active Physics)
is going to carry it now. They are publishing the EarthComm materials for
sure and I heard they were going to pick up the middle school materials as
well. We do not know much about them but look forward to reviewing the

In our county we are weak in real world earth science experiences in our
schools. Many use the Earth Systems approach but we are still weak in the
geology component. We are looking for a way to use "understanding our local
area" to drive more of the investigations. Some of our schools will use the
middle school FOSS unit- but they still want more emphasis on our local
area. Some use FAST (Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching) developed
by the Curriculum Research & Development Group of the University of Hawaii.
They use the "Local Environment" materials and locve it. Our problem is the
local application portion requires great teacher effort. They have to be
willing to investigate their area- it is not in the book! We really need to
network better between teachers to avoid duplicating effort in identifying
resources and developing the supplemental materials often needed when you
"look locally." As a result, many schools shy away from the local aspect
due to time and resource availability. We are working on it. There are
numerous interdisciplinary ties in this content area.

Mentioned in the last post, we also use the GLOBE program
( It has been very valuable to us as a tool to
supplement any curriculum by introducing local environmental
monitoring/understanding and facilitating the reporting of data really used
by scientists. It is flexible to be used K-12. This isn't just canned labs
where the actual numerical data is rather useless in the end- the kids are
studying their local environment by following protocols developed by
scientists and reporting their data for those scientists to use. The
students can call up data from other sites (there are over 7000 GLOBE
schools in 70 countries) and look at trends in data based on location or
time. Students all of a sudden take things more seriously knowing this data
will be used for real. It also has a neat remoote sensing piece where
students conduct ground cover verification of the actual satellite image for
their area. We are pretty new in this, but looking forward to the

We also compact local dollars (district Eisenhower, local foundation
grants, other grants, etc) for equipment purchase which can be borrowed by
teachers. It is kind of like the kit concept of a regional distribution
center, but we are doing it with scientific equipment. We provide complete
class sets of equipment to carry out all the GLOBE protocols (water testing,
soil testing, GPS units, laptops, digital cameras, etc), as well as provide
other equipment (really high quality balances, microscopes, calculators,
CBL's, probes, etc). We have some real high end stuff (electrophoresis
units, gas chromatographs, HPLC's, nuclear scalars, melting point units,
etc) for secondary school use (we serve 18 high schools) and allow
teachers/students to borrow it for use in individual investigations for
science fairs, research/team projects, etc. Our goal is to foster "depth of
understanding" by providing the equipment needed to carry out some of the
investigations in the exemplary materials or to offer support for extensions
and individual investigation. We work with college personnel in designing
teacher training and application. Local industry helps us spec the
equipment to match what they use and helps with applications. It is a neat
"real world" piece.

Our goal is to provide the tools needed for the true depth of understanding
which comes from experimenting and investigating. We do not want to see
schools have to buy expensive equipment which is used only a few days a
year. We can borrow the basic elements of the kit distribution center for
non kit based middle school materials and develop our own local materials
and resources to share between schools. I think as we transition to middle
school and high school, the distribution centers will look more like
equipment warehouses- offering flexible choice to teachers and students to
acquire tools necessary to carry out the investigations in the exemplary

This also has great implications for teacher ownership- when they play an
active role in designing the innovation.

 main /index

 previous post
 next post