Title: Inspiring future ESA members in elementary or middle school, using place-based inquiry
Many obstacles hold back students' learning in science in K12 education. Some obstacles, such as school culture and persuasive paradigms that "school is not cool" are a few, long-term hindrances. Only about 1 in 3 middle school students currently achieve proficient scores on state tests. With great burdens and distressing statistics, what can teachers do? They can make short-term changes in pedagogy to increase motivation and responsibility in their students.
This project explored place-based inquiry, which allows students to use the natural environment in which they live as an inquiry-based learning environment. Students gained knowledge and learned skills that could apply across the curriculum. In a low-income middle school, in northwestern New Mexico, 160 students engaged in a mini-unit, broadly exploring the nature of life science. Students designed an observational study - they formulated questions, wrote procedures, collected data, and drew conclusions.
This type of pedagogy was successful for several reasons. First, students were motivated to answer questions that they typically could not answer with a textbook. Second, students gained knowledge and skills that could be used across the curriculum.
Here's a pdf of the poster: ESA Poster cswitzer 12.pdf