Discipline-Based Education Research Group


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Presented to UNL Discipline-Based Education Research Group, 2012.


Copyright 2012, Frank R. Rack.


Over the past six years, more than 10,000 middle school and high school teachers and students have been introduced to the ANDRILL‐related “Antarctica’s Climate Secrets” activity modules and the “Environmental Literacy Framework (ELF) with a focus on climate change” activity modules (funded by grants from NSF and NOAA, respectively). This presentation will provide an overview of the outcomes of these two projects and discuss the lessons learned with respect to different stakeholder groups. The development of the ELF hands‐on activity modules is continuing and all ELF activity modules are currently being submitted to the CLEAN (Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network) Pathway for review and adoption into that collection. The hands‐on activity modules developed as part of the “Antarctica’s Climate Secrets” project have already been accepted into the CLEAN Pathway collection.

The NSF‐funded “Antarctica Climate Secrets” project (led by Judy Diamond at the Nebraska State Museum of Natural History, and Luanne Dahlman, an ARISE (ANDRILL Research Immersion for Science Educators) Program participant and curriculum developer at TERC, who is currently at the NOAA Climate Project Office), developed resources that were closely related to the ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) Program’s geoscience research activities in Antarctica. These resources were used for teacher professional development and by teachers working with their students to create Flexhibits (FLEXible exHIBITs), where students teach other students and the general public about what they’ve learned about Antarctica and climate change after participating in the hands‐on activities and learning the information in the five themes of “Antarctica’s Climate Secrets,” which relate to Antarctica and climate change.

During each year of the three year NOAA‐funded Environmental Literacy grant to UNL, two professional development workshops for teachers/educators have been conducted at each of 4‐10 sites across the United States to (1) introduce the Environmental Literacy Framework (ELF), (2) provide inquiry‐based activities with a focus on climate change, and (3) collect data for research and evaluation. Following the workshops, teachers interact with other teachers and with scientists as they deepen their knowledge about climate change science and pedagogy. Teachers work with students who conduct their own research and present their project outcomes to new audiences in local Flexhibit events, and at a capstone Climate Change Student Summit, where the students from each state are gathered together and connected to the other C2S2 sites via videoconference, and to interact in person with attending geoscientists.

The focus of the NOAA‐funded Environmental Literacy (EL) resources has been to build educators’ background knowledge about climate change science while helping them to integrate ocean, climate, and environmental literacy concepts into existing science courses. Teachers implement hands‐on and inquiry‐based learning activities with their students, and the students develop projects that demonstrate concepts of ocean, climate and environmental literacy. Student activities culminate in a Climate Change Student Summit (C2S2) capstone event, held at museums and other public venues, where students present the outcomes of their own scientific inquiries. More than 800 students have been directly involved in the NOAA‐funded Climate Change Student Summits (C2S2), and more than 200 teachers and 5,000 students are currently using the ELF modules in their classrooms in 10 U.S. States.