National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Southeastern Section Newsletter
Email Edition - Summer / Fall 2003
|Regional News: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee|
(submitted by Douglas
W. Haywick, Robert Meintzer,
... well let's just say that Alabama is already at the bottom of the list as far as education is concerned in the United States and that we can't go much further without cutting out programs from all levels of education. The battle cry of the Yes vote is "Let's do the right thing". No voters have retained the oldie-but-goodies "We're taxed enough" and "No more new taxes". As it turns out, most people would pay less in taxes with the reform package, but that message has been ignored or missed by the No side. It is gratifying to see that most educators in Alabama are attempting to spread the message that tax reform is necessary for future generations in our state. September 9th will reveal if the majority of state residents agree. [Editor's note: On September 9, Alabama residents voted down the proposed tax reforms.]
Spain High School in Hoover, Alabama, has introduced Earth Science into its curriculum. Schools using NSF-supported curriculum materials in grades K-5 under LASER (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform) from National Science Resource Center (NSRC) cover grade appropriate earth & space materials through inquiry. Much of North Alabama is receiving LASER-based curricula due to federal grant money received; efforts are underway elsewhere. Plans to cover 6-8 are also underway. Alabama has instituted Alabama Mathematics, Science, and Techonology Initiative which goes hand-in-hand with LASER efforts towards implementing NSF-supported curriculum materials in schools (K-8). AL LASER (the regional organization) is considering expanding from K-8 to K-12. Currently, earth science materials under AMSTI include the STC, STC/MS, FOSS, and INSIGHTS books and kits. Unforunately, AGI's exemplary materials (Investigating Earth Systems for middle schools and EarthComm for high schools) published by Its-About-Time have not been included in either program as AGI and Its-About-Time have not become LASER sponsors.
The State adopted a revised course-of-study for science in 2001 patterned after the national standards, but much weaker overall. In general, the state course-of-study (COS) takes the eight national content standards and dilutes them into four (the three life science, earth & space science, and physical science standards, plus lumping the other five into a general group); removes earth & space science as a requirement in high school and moves some high school material (space science) into 8th grade; puts the study of fossils under life science in 8th grade), etc. By the state standards, an Alabamian receives all their earth science (except fossils) by the end of 7th grade! The state COS does indirectly direct teaching using the inquiry-method, but few teachers are trained in inquiry and few universities offer education students the opportunity to learn inquiry when they take earth science courses. Around the same time as the Alabama COS was written, a graduation examination was put into place that has NO earth and space science content, although it leans heavily on knowledge gained in grades 6-9.
The Alabama Geological Society held its 39th annual field trip on December 5-7, 2002, "The Geology, Mining Methods, and Processing of Selected Industrial Minerals in Northeastern Alabama", led by Robert S. Fousek. The guidebook is available from the Society: http://www.alags.org/index. The Society also held a field seminar on February 22, "Geology and Operations at National Cement Company's Ragland Quarry".
On May 2-4, the Geological Survey of Alabama, Alabama Museum of Natural History, and Alabama Paleontological Society joined forces to host a Workshop on Permo-Carboniferous Ichnology in Tuscaloosa. The meeting focused on the Union Chapel Mine, which has yielded more than 1600 specimens of Pennsylvanian trackways since its discovery in 1999.
The Geological Survey
of Alabama's Education Committee will offer a repeat of their popular
one-day field and lab seminar, "Cretaceous of West-Central
Alabama: A Hands-on Fossil Workshop for Teachers" at
the University of West Alabama, Livingston. Instructors will include Andrew
Rindsberg, Charles C. Smith, and Richard Thurn. Note
are still some vacant slots available! If you missed our first four workshops,
you have another chance to visit some of Alabama’s most famous fossil
collecting localities! Contact
Andrew Rindsberg for information (email@example.com).
New earth science web resources from Alabama for geoscience teachers:
The DeKalb County
Schools System (serving part of Metro Atlanta) is going to open an environmental
education theme school in 2005. It will be located near Mount Arabia,
a large gneiss outcrop in the southwest part of the county. A major component
of the curriculum will focus on the geology of the area.
Georgia's earth science curriculum has not changed much from last year. We are still waiting on the new state K-12 science objectives that were supposed to be ready this fall. Earth Science is still taught in the 8th grade, but might be moved to the 6th if/when the new state standards are issued next year. Very few schools in the state offer Earth Science courses at the high school level. The state is moving toward end of course testing and away from a comprehensive graduation test... end of course tests will be piloted this fall and will count as 20% of the final grade this spring. I think it is a sign of the states commitment to Earth Science education that there are no plans to develop an end of course test for High School Earth Science courses.
Here is the web site
for the GA Geologic Society: http://www.westga.edu/~ggsweb/ggs.html.
For more Georgia geoscience information online: http://www.gpc.peachnet.edu/~pgore/gore.htm.
Louisiana (no information submitted)
Mississippi (no information submitted)
(submitted by Mary
Watson and Debbie Mount)
North Carolina is currently revising its K12 science curriculum. The goal for the revision is to increase alignment with national standards and assessments, improve clarity and vertical alignment, and increase the focus on important concepts and doing science. Earth and Environmental sciences are incorporated into the K-8 curriculum at every grade level and an Earth Environmental science course is now a high school graduation requirement. The revision process involves teachers, University educators, scientists, representatives of the business community, parents, and members of the public. Current drafts of the updated curriculum and contact information for the science team at the Department of Public Instruction can be viewed by going to http://www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/science/index.html and following the links to the proposed revisions. Comments, support and suggestions are welcome. For more information, contact: Dr. Eleanor Enthoven Hasse (firstname.lastname@example.org), Science Consultant, Mathematics and Science Section, NC Dept Public Instruction, 6352 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-6352; tele - (919) 807-3845; fax - (919) 807-3823.
Debbie Michael, an astronomy and earth/environmental science teacher at East Lincoln High School broughtcurrent events into her science classroom after returning from a trip to Seoul, South Korea. She participated in a global study program for invited educational policymakers to examine educational policies and best practices in South Korea. She was awarded a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund that paid for her travel expenses to Seoul. Michael was one of 21 people, including lawmakers, educators and other professionals who participated in the trip. She visited middle school and high school science classes and observed Korean teachers and students. The group chose to visit South Korea because of its high international scores on math and science as stated in the TIMSS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study) report.
Grier Simmons, a ninth
grade student at East Lincoln High School in Denver, NC, was the national
winner in the Earth Science Week essay contest for 2000. The theme was
"Water is All Around You" and his winning essay was entitled
"Drizzle's Day".Grier followed a day in the life of a water
molecule and was very creative with his essay. Grier was awarded a monetary
prize and his essay was published in Geotimes in the Jan. 2003 issue.
Grier was a student in Debbie Michael's Earth/Environmental science class.
She had students write essays on the topic for Earth Science week as a
requirement for a writing across the curriculum assignment. She encouraged
students to submit their essays for the contest.
The 35th Annual NC Science Teachers Association Conference will be held at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, NC on November 13-14, 2003.
The following are highlights of the 2002 conference:
The NC Geologic community
sponsors the "Great Rock Give Away" every other year at NCSTA.
Geological Society annual field trip will be held November 14, 15,
A few high schools offer elective courses in geology, astronomy, or environmental science, but the surprisingly strong earth science standards for high school instruction are for the most part being ignored, and there is no end-of-course testing for earth science as there is for physical science and biology. The high school exit exam is first given in tenth grade and reportedly gives minimal coverage to earth science topics.
All South Carolina students will eventually be required to take a special end-of-year exam (called the PACT - Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test) in each major subject each year. This year, they are testing science in grades 5 and 7, eventually; science will be included in all grades. Recent budget cuts have given most science teachers larger class sizes and fewer resources, but they are still expected to show improvement in student test performance.
There are lots of professional development opportunities available to schools, but fewer in-service days to schedule them. The long-awaited middle school certification is very close to implementation. Once that policy is in place, principals will no longer be able to assign science classes to elementary certified teachers who have had perhaps only two semesters of science in college.
Several years ago, the National Science Foundation sponsored a geoscience curriculum development project entitled "SE MAPS" (Southeastern Maps and Aerial Photographic Systems). Directed by John Wagner at Clemson University, this initiative set up state development teams in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee to identify significant landforms and/or landscape areas in their states that were suitable for interdisciplinary study at the eighth or ninth grade level. State teams selected various cartographic products that would highlight the thematic focus of each site, provided background information about the site, and suggested a variety of student activities. Many members of the Southeastern Section of NAGT participated in this project. Some of the study areas were completed in draft form and the activities field tested in classrooms in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Work with other study areas has not yet progressed that far. Funding ended before all submitted materials could be compiled into the final Teaching Manual, but the project staff at Clemson has continued to work slowly towards completing the task, with significant help from Mike Clark in Tennessee and a few others. Currently, Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 are available in draft form for review and comment (ultimately there will be ten chapters published). Anyone interested in field testing some of these activities or commenting on the narratives should contact John Wagner at Clemson University (864) 656-5024; email@example.com. Detailed information about SE MAPS also may be obtained from the project website (click here).
(reported by Stan
Dunagan and Michael A. Gibson)
This is a joint meeting with the science educators of Tennessee – the largest single get together for this crowd. Thus, this is also your best opportunity to, at the same meeting, network with the teachers from across Tennessee who train and influence our prospective majors and course clients. Come see how they learn and teach their science and what they need to better represent your fields in their classrooms. Get to know them, and let them get to know you, so that you can foster pipelines from pre-college science programs to college programs.
There are some special programs this year as well. Thursday afternoon is a special symposium on Reelfoot Lake (to be compiled later into a special volume) and a special session on teaching evolution in TN.
official deadline for titles has passed, but Michael has some slots open
to fill the sessions. The final abstract deadline is October 1. Right
now he needs titles and authors, but you may want to go ahead and submit
the abstract. If you are interested, please email Michael (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and he can fax you the necessary forms.
Other Tennessee news items:
Now in its fourth year, the 4th Annual Earth Science Fair at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville exposes middle and high school students to the earth and planetary sciences, subjects typically absent from the standard curriculum. There is no fee to participate, and students are exposed to a wide range of geology-related topics and activities. All students receive a bookmark containing the geologic time scale and teachers are provided with a package of educational materials to take back with them to their classrooms. Some of the activities also provide topic-specific materials and/or samples. This year's fair is October 16 and 17.
The Earth Science Fair has become increasingly popular with the region’s public and private schools. As a result, this year’s Fair has been expanded and extended to two event-packed mornings on Thursday, October 16, and Friday, October 17, 2003. Faculty, students, and others in the local Earth Science community will be volunteering their time and talent to present a variety of hands-on, minds-on activities. There are 16 topics scheduled for this year’s Fair including: remote sensing, gold panning, creating model impact craters, minerals in everyday life, the Moon, natural hazards and mineral resources of Tennessee, roving around Mars, soil and groundwater, the world of caves, a geologic time trail…laid out to scale, and more.
Since this year’s Earth Science Week theme is “Eyes on Planet Earth,” we plan to showcase remote-sensing activities related to the Earth’s geographic and geologic systems, as well as other planetary bodies. A new opportunity for teachers, interns, and home-schooling parents this year, is a two-hour workshop on the geology of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, led by Professor Emeritus Don Byerly.
The Fair is made possible through the generosity of University of Tennessee graduate students, faculty and staff, as well as by a number of individuals and professional organizations, governmental agencies, mining, geotechnical and environmental consulting companies operating in the East Tennessee region. The Fair’s website (http://web.ukt.edu/~geoclub/earthscifair) provides detailed information about the event and Earth Science Week, and allows on-line registration.
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