Studying Geology of Central Texas through Web-Based Virtual Field Trips
Each year over 2500 students, mainly non-science majors, take introductory geology classes at the University of Houston. Optional field trips to Central Texas for these classes provide a unique learning opportunity for students to experience geologic concepts in a real world context. The field trips visit Enchanted Rock, Inks Lake, Bee Cave Road, Lion Mountain, and Slaughter Gap. Unfortunately, only around 10% of our students participate in these field trips. We are developing a web-based virtual field trip for Central Texas to provide an additional effective learning experience for students in these classes. The module for Enchanted Rock is complete and consists of linked geological maps, satellite imagery, digital elevation models, 3-D photography, digital video, and 3-D virtual reality visualizations. The ten virtual stops focus on different geologic process and are accompanied by questions and answers. To test the efficacy of the virtual field trip, we developed a quiz to measure student learning and a survey to evaluate the website. The quiz consists of 10 questions paralleling each stop and information on student attendance on the Central Texas field trip and/or the virtual field trip. From the survey, the average time spent on the website was 26 minutes, and overall the ratings of the virtual field trip were positive. Most noticeably students responded that the information on the website was relevant to their class and that the pictures, figures, and animations were essential to the website. Although high correlation coefficients between responses were expected for some questions (i.e., 0.89 for "The content or text of the website was clear" and "The information on the website was easy to read"), some correlations were less expected: 0.77 for "The number of test questions was appropriate" and "The information on the website was easy to read," and 0.70 for "The test questions reinforced the material presented on the website" and "The information on the website is relevant to my class." These virtual field trips provide an alternative for students who cannot attend the actual field trips. They also allow transfer students to experience these sites before attending upper level field trips, which often return to study these sites in more detail. These modules provide a valuable supplementary experience for all students, as they emphasize skills for which we are presently unable to provide sufficient practice in lecture, fieldtrips, or laboratory. Public access to the field trips is available at: http://geoinfo.geosc.uh.edu/VR/ http://geoinfo.geosc.uh.edu/VR/
UNM/LANL Volcanology Summer Field Course
The Volcanology Summer Field Course, taught jointly by volcanologists from the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory, has instructed over 140 undergraduate and graduate students from 15 countries since 1992. The course consists of nine graded field exercises conducted in diverse volcanic rocks of the Miocene to Quaternary-age Jemez Volcanic Field and Valles caldera, with excursions to the Miocene Ship Rock dike and plug complex, the Pliocene Mount Taylor composite volcano, and the Quaternary Zuni-Bandera basalt field. Exercises focus on mapping large-scale silicic eruption deposits (e.g., Bandelier Tuff as well as older and younger eruptions), establishing volcanic stratigraphy, understanding the processes of water-magma interaction through detailed mapping, and investigating hydrothermal alteration in an intra-caldera setting. Techniques such as geothermal gas sampling and identification of volcanic rocks and structures form an integral part of the training. Contributing to the success of the course include: 1) its small class size of 16 to 17 students; 2) duration of 3.5 weeks—long enough for sustained focus on the Jemez field area; 3) central lodging arrangement (Young's Ranch Field Station), with meals coordinated by a camp cook; 4) organized course structure supplementing field assignments with evening lectures in a common-room; 5) instructors with a variety of geological/volcanological expertise; and 6) the ability to team up with multi-national students bringing a wide array of approaches and experiences. The course acts as a springboard for students pursuing interests in volcanology, offering an intensive and lively field experience that is difficult to find anywhere else.
Online Classroom Research and Analysis Activities Using MARGINS-Related Resources for the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Subduction System
Students today have online access to nearly unlimited scientific information in an entirely unfiltered state. As such, they need guidance and training in identifying and assessing high-quality information resources for educational and research use. The extensive research data resources available online for the Izu-Bonin-Mariana (IBM) subduction system that have been developed with MARGINS Program and related NSF funding are an ideal venue for focused Web research exercises that can be tailored to a range of undergraduate geoscience courses. This presentation highlights student web research activities examining: a) The 2003-2005 eruptions of Anatahan Volcano in the Mariana volcanic arc. MARGINS-supported geophysical research teams were in the region when the eruption initiated, permitting a unique "event response" data collection and analysis process, with preliminary results presented online at websites linked to the MARGINS homepage, and ultimately published in a special issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. In this activity, students will conduct a directed Web surf/search effort for information on and datasets from the Anatahan arc volcano, which they will use in an interpretive study of recent magmatic activity in the Mariana arc. This activity is designed as a homework exercise for use in a junior-senior level Petrology course, but could easily be taken into greater depth for the benefit of graduate-level volcanology or geochemistry offerings. b) Geochemical and mineralogical results from ODP Legs 125 and 195 focused on diapiric serpentinite mud volcanoes, which erupt cold, high pH fluids, serpentine muds, and serpentinized ultramafic clasts at a number of sites in the forearc region of the Mariana subduction zone. The focus of this activity is an examination of the trace element chemistry of the forearc serpentines and their associated upwelling porefluids as a means of understanding the roles of ionic radius, valence, and system abundance in the formation and trace element systematics of serpentine group minerals.
Not gathering dust: Using NSF-MARGINS data sets and samples as components in undergraduate education and research.
The NSF-MARGINS funded Leg 7 of the Cook Expedition (2001) has produced abundant amount of samples and data. While these have been the subject of intended published and ongoing research, they have also been successfully applied to undergraduate education at the University of Delaware. Mineral and whole rock analyses have been incorporated into Earth Materials courses as portions of problem sets. Mineralogy students have used mineral compositional data to calculate solid-solution end-members, while Petrology students have calculated CIPW norms from whole rock and melt inclusion analyses. The large numbers of samples analyzed allow students to observe a variety of data and also be assigned individual data sets for calculations. Furthermore, the Cook 7 data and thin-sections have allowed students to examine a variety of arc and back-arc examples and in some cases observe genetic linkages. Utilization of the Cook 7 materials has not been limited to coursework; examination of basaltic lava dredged from Esmeralda Bank has formed the basis of an undergraduate research project. EPMA analyses of mineral phases were combined with petrographic work to unravel a complex crystallization history that involved co-precipitating phases and magma mingling. These examples reveal that after their use in pure research, data and samples produced from the MARGINS initiative can make significant contributions to the education of the next generation of geologists.
Teaching marine geology and geophysics: Examples of exercises based around high quality seismic reflection data, well data, and other marine geophysical data from the Woodlark Basin, Papua New Guinea
A common complaint amongst instructors teaching structural geology, sedimentology, and geophysics is the lack of industry seismic reflection data for use as examples in upper level undergraduate and graduate geoscience classes. While a vast quantity of high quality raw and processed academic seismic reflection data are available through National Science Foundation funded databases, these databases are designed largely for researchers who specialize in the field. Instructors still lack packaged examples of data that illustrate the processing of the raw seismic reflection data, interpretation, integration with well data, and interpretation in the context of the regional geology. The Woodlark Basin in Papua New Guinea provides a natural laboratory for the study of the geosciences. It is a continental rift that is in the process of transitioning to seafloor spreading. The area around the rifting-to- spreading transition has been imaged using seismic reflection at many scales from single channel data through 480-channel data collected using a 6-km streamer. The region has also been thoroughly mapped using swath bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and magnetic data. Several ODP drill holes in the region, coincident with the available marine seismic reflection data, provide a detailed picture of the subsidence history of the northern half of the basin. These data are used to build exercises suitable for upper-level geoscience students, including seismic interpretation of high quality reflection data constrained by ties between multiple seismic lines, downhole geophysical data, and well logs. Structural interpretations of the data can be done both along the seismic reflection lines and between them using the detailed swath bathymetry and sidescan data. Timing of events in the basin can be constrained using both the sedimentological and seafloor magnetic data. All data are provided along with detailed exercises. Numerous formats are used, including both raw data and images, making the exercises accessible to instructors that are not familiar with the intricacies of dealing with temperamental geophysical data formats.
The Math You Need, When You Need It: Student-Centered Web Resources Designed to Decrease Math Review and Increase Quantitative Geology in the Classroom
Introductory geoscience courses are rife with quantitative concepts from graphing to rates to unit conversions. Recent research suggests that supplementary mathematical instruction increases post-secondary students' retention and performance in science courses. Nonetheless, many geoscience faculty feel that they do not have enough time to cover all the geoscience content, let alone covering the math they often feel students should have learned before reaching their classes. We present our NSF-funded effort to create web modules for students that address these concerns. Our web resources focus on both student performance and faculty time issues by building students' quantitative skills through web-based, self-paced modular tutorials. Each module can be assigned to individual students who have demonstrated on a pre-test that they are in need of supplemental instruction. The pre-test involves problems that place mathematical concepts in a geoscience context and determines the students who need the most support with these skills. Students needing support are asked to complete a three-pronged web-based module just before the concept is needed in class. The three parts of each tutorial include: an explanation of the mathematics, a page of practice problems and an on-line quiz that is graded and sent to the instructor. Each of the modules is steeped in best practices in mathematics and geoscience education, drawing on multiple contexts and utilizing technology. The tutorials also provide students with further resources so that they can explore the mathematics in more depth. To assess the rigor of this program, students are given the pre-test again at the end of the course. The uniqueness of this program lies in a rich combination of mathematical concepts placed in multiple geoscience contexts, giving students the opportunity to explore the way that math relates to the physical world. We present several preliminary modules dealing with topics common in introductory geoscience courses. We seek feedback from faculty teaching all levels of geoscience addressing several questions: In what math/geoscience topics do you feel students need supplemental instruction? Where do students come up against quantitative topics that make them drop the class or perform poorly? Would you be willing to review or help us to test these modules in your class?
The Barrett Foundation: Undergraduate Research Program for Environmental Engineers and Scientists
A new program sponsored by The Barrett Foundation in the University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (UVM) supports undergraduate students in Environmental Engineering, Earth and Environmental Sciences to pursue independent summer research projects. The Barrett Foundation, a non-profit organization started by a UVM Engineering alum, provided a grant to support undergraduate research. Students must work with at least two different faculty advisors to develop project ideas, then independently prepare a research proposal and submit it to a faculty panel for review. The program was structured as a scholarship to foster a competitive application process. In the last three years, fourteen students have participated in the program. The 2007 Barrett Scholars projects include: - Using bacteria to change the chemistry of subsurface media to encourage calcite precipitation for soil stability and pollutant sequestration - Assessing structural weaknesses in a historic post and beam barn using accelerometers and wireless data collection equipment - Using image processing filters to 1) evaluate leaf wetness, a leading indicator of disease in crops and 2) assess the movement of contaminants through building materials. - Investigating the impact of increased water temperature on cold-water fish species in two Vermont streams. - Studying the impacts of light duty vehicle tailpipe emissions on air quality This program supports applied and interdisciplinary environmental research and introduces students to real- world engineering problems. In addition, faculty from different research focuses are presented the opportunity to establish new collaborations around campus through the interdisciplinary projects. To date, there is a successful publication record from the projects involving the Barrett scholars, including students as authors. One of the objectives of this program was to provide prestigious, competitive awards to outstanding undergraduate engineers who wish to pursue a specific research project under the mentorship of faculty members who are leading scholars in their fields. We not only wanted to create a valuable experience for the undergraduate engineers, but also felt that creating a competitive and prestigious award would create excitement and convince other undergraduate engineers to pursue research experiences.
Minority Institutions Collaboration in Geoscience Education and Research
The Minority University Consortium for Earth and Space Sciences (MUCESS) is a collaboration among four diverse minority institutions to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing professional and research careers in Earth and Atmospheric Science and Space Science. The institutions that comprise MUCESS include the University of Houston-Downtown (Hispanic Serving Institution), Medgar Evers College (Other Minority University), Norfolk State University (Historically Black College/University) and South Carolina State University (Historically Black College/University). MUCESS collaborations span a range of projects in research, education and outreach in Earth and Space Science. This includes faculty research, undergraduate internships and student exchanges among our institutions as well as outreach to K-12 schools and the general public. MUCESS has recently received an award from the National Science Foundation under Solicitation NSF 04-590 "Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG)". Under this award faculty and students will be engaged in research (both undergraduate and graduate) in atmospheric science through ozonesonde launches to better understand the distribution and transport of ozone in the lower troposphere. Faculty and students will also participate in ozone observations for validation of instruments onboard the NASA Aura satellite. Additional balloon payloads will include instruments such as temperature and data logger sensors, carbon dioxide detectors, Geiger counters and digital and analog cameras. Launches will originate from Texas, New York, Vermont, South Carolina and elsewhere. This presentation describes the formation of MUCESS and the collaborative undergraduate research and outreach projects spanning six or more years. It also describes the evolution of the joint ozone investigation as well as planned activities supported by the NSF Geoscience Diversity award. Funding for the work described has been provided by NASA under a variety of programs and awards to all four institutions individually (MUCERPI, MUSPIN, Aura/EPO, Space Grant Consortia, PAIR, etc.) as well as the recent NSF OEDG award to MUCESS. http://nrts.mec.cuny.edu/mucess
Building and Deploying Remotely Operated Vehicles in the First-Year Experience
Coastal Carolina University has committed to improving student retention and success in Mathematics and Science through a pilot program to engage first-year students in an applied and investigative project as part of the University's First-Year Experience (FYE). During the fall 2007 semester, five pilot sections of FYE classes, consisting of students from the College of Natural and Applied Sciences are building and deploying Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). These ROV-based classes are designed to: accelerate exploration of the broad fields of science and mathematics; enlist interest in technology by engaging students in a multi-stepped, interdisciplinary problem solving experience; explore science and mathematical concepts; institute experiential learning; and build a culture of active learners to benefit student success across traditional departmental boundaries. Teams of three students (forty teams total) will build, based on the MIT Sea Perch design, and test ROVs in addition to collecting data with their ROVs. Various accessories attached to the vehicles for data collection will include temperature and light sensors, plankton nets and underwater cameras. The first-year students will then analyze the data, and the results will be documented as part of their capstone projects. Additionally, two launch days will take place on two campus ponds. Local middle and high school teachers and their students will be invited to observe this event. The teams of students with the most capable and successful ROVs will participate in a workshop held in November 2007 for regional elementary, middle and high school teachers. These students will give a presentation on the building of the ROVs and also provide a hands-on demonstration for the workshop participants. These activities will ensure an incorporation of service learning into the first semester of the freshmen experience. The desired outcomes of the ROV-based FYE classes are: increased retention at the postsecondary level in mathematics and science; increased student confidence to persevere through difficult courses by seeing the actual application of the science; greater self-esteem and self-efficacy through service learning; and engaging middle and high school students in mathematics and science. The innovative significance of the program is three fold: applying experiential learning through technology; integrating disciplines in a planned manner with consistent delivery; and creating an environment conducive to success.
Reflections by a student and a faculty member on student-faculty collaborative geophysical field research
More and more students and faculty engage in collaborative research. Field geophysics provides a fascinating venue, as it always contributes to interpersonal relations, usually involves off-campus work, and often allows us to meet new people and explore a different culture. Tackling an authentic research problem keeps a faculty member excited about her/his discipline, while allowing a student to engage in the process of science, follow a researcher's thoughts and contribute to a real project. The exchange of ideas and the generation of new knowledge is rewarding to the student as it facilitates her/his academic growth. Despite the obvious advantages of including students in field-based research, few students are allowed such an opportunity because of the institutional commitment in time and money that is necessary for success. Other challenges in field-based geophysical research include steep learning curves related to the use of equipment, unknown outcomes (data that is often difficult to interpret), and a true commitment to the project on the student's part. The faculty member on the other hand faces additional challenges because of the responsibility for students in the field, scheduling constraints, limited funding, and students' diverse academic goals. This presentation will be given by a faculty member and a student who have engaged in various authentic research projects. Projects ranged from afternoon lab exercises on campus (eg, microgravity survey over a tunnel on campus), course projects connected to field trips (eg, magnetic study and subsequent potential field analysis), summer research projects (eg, georadar survey of Deboullie Lake rock glacier), to year-long undergraduate thesis projects (eg, potential field studies at igneous centres of the Navajo Volcanic Field). We will present highlights of these projects, examine their pedagogical merits, and discuss the advantages and rewards we earned as well as the challenges we faced. Despite all challenges, we find that the outcomes, the sense of accomplishment, the rich interpersonal exchange, and the intellectual as well as personal growth of students is well worth the effort that goes into planning and executing such projects. Our aim is to promote collaborative and authentic research, and to find out about creative ways to bring such an experience to a wider range of interested students.
Active Learning in an Introductory Meteorology Class
Active learning modules were introduced to the primarily minority population in the introductory meteorology class at Queensborough Community College (QCC). These activities were developed at QCC and other 4 year colleges and designed to reinforce basic meteorological concepts. The modules consisted of either Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILD) or discovery-based activities. During the ILD the instructor would describe an experiment that would be demonstrated in class. Students would predict what the outcome would be and compare their expected results to the actual outcome of the experiment. In the discovery-based activities students would learn about physical concepts by performing basic experiments. These activities differed from the traditional lab in that it avoided "cookbook" procedures and emphasized having the students learn about the concept using the scientific method. As a result of these activities student scores measuring conceptual understanding, as well as factual knowledge, increased as compared to student scores in a more affluent community college. Students also had higher self- efficacy scores. Lower scoring students demonstrated the greatest benefit, while the better students had little (or no) changes.
Using Lecture Tutorials to Increase Student Learning in Introductory Geoscience Courses
Students often leave introductory geoscience courses with their misconceptions still intact, and we developed Lecture Tutorials (LTs) to help alleviate this problem. LTs are 10-15 minute interactive worksheets that students complete in small groups in class, after a short introductory lecture. Topics for the LTs (e.g., climate change, the rock cycle, etc.) were chosen because they are commonly taught in introductory classes and include recognized misconceptions. The LTs typically follow a sequence beginning with factual-based questions that progressively become more difficult and culminating in application-type questions designed to provoke both discussion and critical thinking. Often, one of the latter questions is presented in the form of a debate between two students, where one student expresses the scientifically held view and the other espouses a view based on a common misconception. Students in the class must determine with which student in the LT they agree and explain why. These hypothetical debates allow students to confront their own misconceptions and replace them with the accepted scientific views. Lecture Tutorials increase student learning more than lectures alone. After a short lecture, students correctly answered 58% of multiple-choice questions (including embedded Geoscience Concept Inventory questions), and that value increased by 18% after they completed the LT. To determine if the increase resulted from extra time spent on the topic rather than the unique approach of LTs, we also tested how an extended lecture, in lieu of LTs, affected student scores. After an extended lecture, student scores increased by only 5% on multiple-choice questions. Therefore, we conclude that LTs are more effective than lecture alone in increasing student knowledge. LTs have been written to be relatively easy to implement in classrooms without a large time commitment or dramatic course redesign. Thirteen LTs have currently been tested, and more are being developed. They are available for instructor use by visiting the webpage: http://faculty.ccri.edu/kkortz/lt.shtml. http://faculty.ccri.edu/kkortz/lt.shtml
Developing virtual REU cohorts: Reflections from the IRIS Undergraduate Internship Program
Beginning in 2006, the IRIS Education and Outreach program received funding from the National Science Foundation (EAR-0453427) to explore a novel approach to the traditional Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) model. This model blends the spirit of an REU program, which traditionally hosts participants in one location with successful prior IRIS experience hosting students at widely separated institutions to participate in summer research. A unique feature the IRIS Undergraduate Internship Program is that throughout the summer, interns form and sustain a virtual community, offering assistance, sharing ideas, asking questions, and relaying life experiences while conducting their research at diverse institutions. Key to IRISâ€™s REU model is a combination of: one-on-one mentoring by researchers at IRIS institutions across the US, developing a strong unity among interns through both face-to-face and on-line interactions, participation of an IRIS REU alumni mentor to provide both group and intern-specific guidance developing internsâ€™ abilities to self-evaluate and work independently, through carefully designed web-based tools, and increasing internsâ€™ awareness of the IRIS and broader Earth Science community; demonstrating the role they will play in this larger community. Virtual interaction is facilitated by 1) bringing students together for face-to-face contact, through a week long orientation held annually at the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center on the campus of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and 2) the community enabling web infrastructure at http://www.iris.edu/internship/. During the orientation students engage in classes in geophysics basics, career preparation, as well as training to communicate virtually. Our experiences and evaluations from the 2006 and 2007 field seasons have:shown the increasing demand for electronic advertising of REU programs, provided support for several assumptions of the model including the key role of both the orientation week and the alumni mentor, revealed the important role of blogs and discussion forums in the mentoring and self-reflection process, as well as additional technical enhancements to improve the virtual cohort, produced concrete examples of the model applied at its best, and helped the program identify challenges the model faces, e.g communicating during remote fieldwork and sustaining intern's attention and participation in the virtual community. http://www.iris.edu/internship
Young Talented Future Geoscientists (YTFG): Seven Exclusive Tips on how to Construct Them
Young talented specialists in geologic companies and research institutions seem to be wanted nowadays. At present employers need graduates in Earth Sciences having good mathematical background and computing, to say nothing that geologic knowledge is a must. Companies and universities seem to head-hunt YTFG. What are the tips to get YTFG? 1) To get future YTFG ready, somewhere, even before the university level. There is a special school of Physics and Mathematics in Novosibirsk Academgorodok. All the talented young stars are found in all Siberian, Far East regions, and even in ex-Soviet countries, to study there. They can enter the university with no entrance exams. 2) To have free education. Education at NSU is really free if a student has very good grades. (Otherwise students have to pay much (75,000 rubles per year, which is very expensive for Russia)). 3) To have a special curriculum at the university. At NSU the curriculum is not standard, different from other Russian universities, with an accent to individual teaching/studying and having very high scientific standards. 4) To have unrestricted possibilities to teach geology in situ. There is a geologic museum at NSU. Students can also use the Central Siberian Geologic Museum of the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy. The university has special locations (camps) for students' field trips. 5) To get enthusiastic lecturers, tutors and instructors, who are ready to work not only for money. Most of them graduated from this very university and work in scientific institutions in Academgorodok. Teaching in this university is an honorable tradition and a very prestigious job, rather a way of living, not working for money. 6) To have a certain financial support from the Government. Recently the Russian Government understood that the financial system should be changed. NSU received a 960 million innovation grant from the Government. There are also many Grants from the Russian Ministry for Science and Education, aimed to support the most competitive universities and particular departments. 7) To live in Siberia. Welcome to Siberia! You can see everything with your own eyes! www.ggd.nsu.ru This work was supported by the Russian Ministry for Science and Education (Grant DSP.18.104.22.1682).
Space Sciences Education Program of Moscow State University
The main purpose of the space sciences education program developed in Moscow State University is to incorporate modern space research in the university and high education and popularize basics of space physics. The First Russian University Satellite "Universitetskiy-Tatyana" launched on January 20, 2005 formed a basis for development of a new approach to the space-physics education. The onboard scientific complex, as well as the mission control and information-receiving center, was designed and developed in Moscow State University. The scientific program of the mission includes measurements of space radiation in various energy ranges, and UV luminosity and lightening from the Earth. Educational materials are concentrated to upper high school, junior and senior university levels. There was developed a special computerized hands-on exercises based on the experimental quasi-realtime data obtained from "Universitetskiy-Tatyana" satellite and other internet resources. Students specialized in space physics from several Russian universities are involved in scientific work based on various scientific data. Moscow State University is now extending its space science education program by creation the electronic textbooks on remote sensing, space factors and materials study, satellite design and development, etc. "Space schools" for university teachers and students were held in 2004 - 2007. The main objective of these schools was to attract interest to space research. The mutual idea of these schools was to join forces of Moscow State University scientists, university teachers and students. For modern university world, it is very important to understand what skills future space scientists and space industry employees must be equipped with. The space sciences educational activity of Moscow State University is a non-profit project and is open for all interested parties.
Teaching about the Early Earth: Evolution of Tectonics, Life, and the Early Atmosphere
The early history of the Earth is the subject of some of the most exciting and innovative research in the geosciences, drawing evidence from virtually all fields of geoscience and using a variety of approaches that include field, analytical, experimental, and modeling studies. At the same time, the early Earth presents unique opportunities and challenges in geoscience education: how can we best teach "uncertain science" where the evidence is either incomplete or ambiguous? Teaching about early Earth provides a great opportunity to help students understand the nature of scientific evidence, testing, and understanding. To explore the intersection of research and teaching about this enigmatic period of Earth history, a national workshop was convened for experts in early Earth research and undergraduate geoscience education. The workshop was held in April, 2007 at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as part of the On the Cutting Edge faculty professional development program. The workshop was organized around three scientific themes: evolution of global tectonics, life, and the early atmosphere. The "big scientific questions" at the forefront of current research about the early Earth were explored by keynote speakers and follow-up discussion groups: How did plate tectonics as we know it today evolve? Were there plates in the Hadean Eon? Was the early Earth molten? How rapidly did it cool? When and how did the atmosphere and hydrosphere evolve? How did life originate and evolve? How did all these components interact at the beginning of Earth's history and evolve toward the Earth system we know today? Similar "big questions" in geoscience education were addressed: how to best teach about "deep time;" how to help students make appropriate inferences when geologic evidence is incomplete; how to engage systems thinking and integrate multiple lines of evidence, across many scales of observation (temporal and spatial), and among many disciplines. Workshop participants developed a collection of teaching strategies to begin to address the challenge of integrating new scientific advances with effective instructional practices with an emphasis on data analysis and critical review of evidence. The workshop webpage includes the workshop program with links to all presentations and discussion summaries, a collection of recommended readings about early Earth research, ideas for teaching about Early Earth, suggestions on how to teach uncertain science, and classroom activities. http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/earlyearth/index.html
Strengthening Environmental Engineering Education in Afghanistan through Cooperating Military Academies
Many developing countries suffer from substandard employment of environmental engineering and science principles, which leads to poor management of natural and cultural resources, increased public health concerns, and limitations on economic investment and growth. Thus, prior to the implementation of well-intentioned programs designed to promote development, methods for sustaining basic needs, which are the focus of most environmental engineering disciplines, must be designed into the social fabric of the developing culture. Education is a promising method for fostering this development across cultures. Recently, the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) partnered with the US Military Academy (USMA) to implement a Civil Engineering Program at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA), Kabul, Afghanistan. This work will outline the process followed during course development, deployment, and implementation, paying particular attention to challenges and benefits at each stage in the process. This cooperation may serve as a model for future implementation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs in developing countries. Consistent with US Civil Engineering programs, the NMAA Civil Engineering program introduces students to a broad range of introductory-level civil engineering subjects—environmental, hydraulic, geotechnical, structural, construction, and transportation engineering. Basic environmental engineering and science principles are addressed through the implementation of an introductory environmental engineering course. Course development followed a three-stage process: (1) course development by US faculty at their home institution, (2) imbedding of US Faculty at the NMAA, and (3) implementation of the course within the NMAA Civil Engineering curriculum using adjunct Afghan faculty hired from Kabul University. An existing environmental engineering course taught at USAFA was used as a model for course development. Although this existing course provided the necessary framework for the Afghan course, there were a number of challenges with tailoring the course material to the education level, experience, and needs of the Afghan students and faculty. These challenges were overcome, in part, during the imbedding process of US instructors within the NMAA faculty. On-site transfer of course material and knowledge proved a necessary step in the implementation of the course. The imbedding process enabled US instructors to discuss the course with current NMAA faculty and identify an implementation path that met the needs of the program while appreciating the uniqueness of the Afghan experience. Implementation of the course is on-going with reach-back capability for Afghan faculty to continue the mentoring relationship with their US colleagues. Challenges that arise during course implementation (e.g., wet lab deployments, field trip relevance) will be overcome and used as learning tools for future course offerings. Ultimately, this course will provide future leaders of Afghanistan with the educational tools to make informed environmental management decisions and will serve as a model for similar courses implemented throughout Afghanistan.