Elementary Pre-Service Science Education via NGSS Phenomena Engagement

Immersive-based inquiry education is a cornerstone of young students developing into young scientists. Throughout my years of teaching elementary science methods, I have informally assessed the general hesitation my pre-service elementary teachers have when it comes to teaching science in their future classrooms. Additionally, I’ve also worked with many in-service middle school teachers who are struggling with creating real-world, data driven lessons that are engaging and challenge student thinking. To this end, I have worked with a team of scientists at CGRER (Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research) to create an online curriculum, aligned to the NGSS, that is free to all. We have collaborated with many scientists, researchers, students, curriculum coordinators and practicing teachers to develop an online textbook for teachers. This book is available at: https://pressbooks.uiowa.edu/8thgradescience/

The focus of this proposal is to address pressing needs in two different areas.
1. elementary preservice teachers have a tendency to be very hesitant when it comes to teaching science. I have used this curriculum with the students to engage them in real-world science, had them engage as the role of scientist and have helped them overcome their fear of the subject via an engaging hands-on/minds-on approach to the subject. They have found working with real questions, with real data, to be an eye-opening experience.
2. secondary pre-service teachers struggle with examples of immersive-based inquiry education models. They are often stuck in a cycle of their personal experience being lecture/memorize with their knowledge of how kids really learn. However, they often lack experience asking real questions or developing real lessons.

Both groups of students engage with the units developed by experts in the field to experience lessons that are inquiry based, real-world and phenomena driven. Examples are CTE in sports, changes in precipitation and the impact on agriculture, wi-fi signals and communication. These are just some of the examples that are shared in this online curriculum.

This presentation will hit at two different groups: methods instructors and curriculum developers. Methods instructors will gain via the lessons that their students can use to understand science and become amazing science teachers. Curriculum developers will be shown how immersive-based inquiry lessons, developed by scientists, can bring to life phenomena driven, NGSS units. Both groups will engage with a methods professor who has developed an extremely engaging, real-world, curriculum aligned with NGSS. They will gain access to an amazing resource, learn how to use it in their classroom and be able to share with in-service teachers.

The presenter at this workshop taught for 9 years in 6th and 7th grade, in the U.S. and internationally. He has BA’s in Environmental Science, Economics, Business with a minor in American History. His masters in in k-12 administration with a Ph.D. in science education. He has taught over 1000 elementary education students over the past nine years. Additionally, he is the primary author on the NGSS aligned online curriculum that is free to all to use.

Teaches will engage with real questions that will look at their understanding of two different units we have developed. First, we will look at how land use has changed over time and the implications of these changes. Second, we will look at the difference between weather and climate via an investigation into historical weather changes. Both of these investigations will be hands-on/minds-on as we explore what is going on in the world in a relevant investigation. We will then explore the other chapters of the NGSS curriculum and leave them with access to this free resource, developed by an amazing team of scientists/educators.

After the workshop, I will personally be available to help them navigate the resources, help answer questions they have and put them in touch with scientists who can answer their deep questions. Additionally, we have research ongoing to the efficacy of this project and are willing to help teachers assess their students pre and post unit knowledge.