Increasing Student Interest in Earth Science through Problem-Based Learning, Use of Technology, and Field Experience
Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) has developed a program through funding from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, whose purpose is to increase the competency and interest in the field of Earth Science. This program will focus on the marine environment of the Dismal Swamp, the Pasquotank River in the Elizabeth City area, and the Currituck Sound area, all located in the northeastern region of North Carolina. High school students in the Pasquotank, Camden, and Currituck School districts will study Earth Science via problem-based learning, the use of geospatial technology, and through field experience. One of the goals of the Burroughs Wellcome Project is to increase the desire of students to pursue careers in Earth Science and to conduct formal research by using the scientific method. The project consists of two key components: 1) An intensive field oriented and technology rich summer workshop led and mentored by ECSU faculty. The Pasquotank County GIS Coordinator and an instructional specialist in problem-based learning: and 2) Two academic year seminars within the fall and spring semesters following the summer workshop. The academic year program is designed to assist participating students in further developing their group project/webpage development activities that were part of their summer workshop training. The academic year program will also involve the students formal presentation of their project to an ECSU science related activity towards the end of each semester. The Program Evaluation Group of Pittsboro, NC will conduct an external evaluation of the project in each of the three years of the grant period.
The Burroughs Wellcome Program has several goals:
- To introduce high school science students to the importance of Earth Science as a system of interactions among the Earth’s Spheres
- To assist these students in understanding the role that Earth Science plays in our lives, as well as the impacts that humans have on various components of the Earth
- To engage participating students in authentic, hands-on activities designed to show the importance and relevance of Earth Science in improving our understanding of local landscapes form and function
- To utilize various geospatial technologies (remote sensing, geographic information systems, and geographic positioning systems) to study the “big picture” associated with local marine environments
- To encourage participating students to pursue careers in Earth Science related disciplines