Date December 16, 2021
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Brown students bring Earth science education to Providence elementary schools

Through DEEPS STEP, Brown postdocs, undergraduate and graduate students develop and teach a science curriculum, complete with engaging, hands-on activities, to elementary students in the Providence Public School District.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [腾讯五分彩官网] — Earlier this fall, two third-grade classes at Pleasant View Elementary School in Providence took up an important challenge.

Six animals living at a local zoo were about to be returned to the wild, and it was up to the students to figure out where each animal should go. Over the course of the fall, 他们必须找出地球上哪里可以为每种生物找到合适的气候和天气条件. 一路上,在腾讯五分彩官网地球科学系学生的帮助下,这些小学生发现了地球气候系统的一些驱动因素,并对科学家如何回答关键问题有了一些了解.

The challenge was part of DEEPS STEP — the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences’ Science-Teaching Education Program — at Brown. As part of the program, 腾讯五分彩官网的学生和博士后们制定了符合下一代科学标准的教学计划. Then they head out to classrooms in the Providence Public School District, 每周与小学老师一起提供教材和一小时的课程. 

The animals the students helped to relocate are hypothetical, of course. But the learning outcomes are not.

“The DEEPS team has put a lot of hard work into the curriculum, and it really is something special,” said Seth Bower, a third-grade teacher at Pleasant View. “重点是让学生参与到科学的过程中——也就是‘做’科学,而不是学习科学主题的一系列事实. 如果腾讯5分彩计划网想培养下一代的科学家和工程师,这种方法确实是科学教学应该是什么.”

A deep dive into hands-on Earth science

The roots of DEEPS STEP go back about 15 years, to a National Science Foundation grant co-led by DEEPS professor Tim Herbert. With support from the grant, 腾讯五分彩官网的研究生们制定了小学科学课程计划,然后帮助在Vartan Gregorian小学教授这些课程——腾讯五分彩官网正在那里与教育工作者合作 a separate project to transform an empty classroom into a hands-on, interactive space 供学生探索科学、技术、工程、艺术和数学——以及其他当地学校. 

In 2016, Olga Prilipko Huber, a research associate and outreach coordinator for DEEPS, worked with a new cohort of graduate students to revamp the program. In talking with elementary school teachers in Providence, Huber发现人们对开发符合下一代科学标准的课程很感兴趣, which Rhode Island had adopted in 2013. 她还想把这个项目发展成一些学校可以自己维持的项目.

“The idea was that for the first year, we develop the lesson plans, provide materials, and DEEPS student volunteers lead the lesson in class once a week,” Huber said. 第二年,在DEEPS志愿者的帮助下,小学老师们开始上课. By the third year, teachers have seen it; they’ve done it; and now they can teach it independently with us supplying the materials.”

So far, DEEPS STEP团队已经与三所PPSD小学的教师合作:Pleasant View, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Vartan Gregorian. About 30 volunteers from Brown work with DEEPS STEP in any given year, 包括教职员工以及本科生、研究生和博士后.

重点是让学生“做”科学,而不是学习科学主题的一系列事实. 如果腾讯5分彩计划网想培养下一代的科学家和工程师,这种方法确实是科学教学应该是什么.

Seth Bower Pleasant View Elementary teacher and Brown MAT alumnus
Image of Seth Bower

The DEEPS STEP lessons are put in the context of things young students love — zoo animals, 环游世界的海盗之旅或蝴蝶迁徙——并强调亲身实践的活动. Students learn about Earth’s water cycle, wind patterns and climate zones.

Bower, who graduated from Brown’s Master of Arts in Teaching program in 2013 and has taught at Pleasant View since, 他说,学生们对一个用迪克西杯制作风速计的活动特别兴奋, cardboard, a pencil and a push pin.

“有机会潜入并尝试实际创造一些东西或解决一个问题,而不是仅仅阅读或观看视频,真的很吸引人,” Bower said.

In a lesson on a late November morning at Pleasant View, 学生们努力去理解为什么地球赤道的温度要比靠近两极的温度高. The third graders split into small groups, each equipped with an inflatable Earth and a small flashlight. 学生们先把灯照在赤道上,然后用记号笔画出光的圆圈. Then the students raised the flashlight so the beam landed nearer the North Pole, and traced that circle of light. 

They quickly saw that because of the curvature of the Earth, the circle of light at the pole was larger than one at the equator, even though they held the flashlight the same distance away. Sloane Garelick, a Brown Ph.D. candidate in geological and Earth science who volunteers with STEP, helped a group of students understand the ramifications of what the experiment showed.  

Image of a Pleasant View student
DEEPS STEP lessons tap into students' natural curiosity

“So is the light more concentrated at the equator or the pole?” Garelick asked one group of students.

“The equator!” one student answered.

“So does that make it warmer or colder at the equator?”

“Warmer!” the group yelled.

Garelick是一名五年级的博士生,自从她第一次来到腾讯五分彩官网,她就一直在DEEPS STEP工作. She says she’s always enjoyed working with kids, 因此,她抓住这个机会,与年轻的学生分享她对科学的热情.

“This is not only something that interests me, but also something that could be really important,” Garelick said. “If we can have an impact on these students and their science education, I want to do what I can to help with that.”

Bower says he’s happy to have subject-matter experts like Garelick visit his class. 

“DEEPS学生为腾讯5分彩计划网的课堂带来了宝贵的观点和经验,”他说. “能和腾讯5分彩计划网合作,演员们一直都很兴奋——很高兴和腾讯5分彩计划网分享他们的经历, 知识和背景,以及我的学生与更广阔的科学世界的巨大联系.”

For the University, the program is one among a wide variety of initiatives through which students, faculty and staff in the Brown community engage with PPSD schools through teaching, tutoring, after-school enrichment and more.

For the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, STEP is part of a broader commitment to promoting scientific literacy, says Jim Russell chair of the department. This year, DEEPS正在普罗维登斯的希望高中试行一项新的教育推广计划,名为CORES——地球科学的职业机会和研究——该计划向对科学感兴趣的高中三年级学生介绍他们可能不知道的职业道路.

“DEEPS STEP educates Providence students about the changing world we live in, 为他们提供有一天将需要的工具,使他们对环境做出明智的决定, health and many other problems facing society,” he said. “Importantly, 该项目寻求通过与教师和学生的合作建立一个可持续的项目.”

Organizers hope to continue growing the program in the coming years, and they’ve begun to recruit new science-minded volunteers from outside DEEPS to help.

Bower says that any expansion of DEEPS STEP should be welcomed by local educators.

“这个项目或类似的项目应该扩大到尽可能多的教室,” he said.