UI scientists and Iowa teachers work together to create 8th grade curriculum


Kasey Dresser & Jenna Ladd | November 3, 2017

Eighth grade teachers from around the state came to the University of Iowa’s Lindquist Center for a special kind of professional development last weekend.

The twenty-one participants worked with University of Iowa faculty and graduate students to design new eighth-grade science curriculum as a part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) development. A large step away from traditional rote memorization, NGSS allows students to engage in self-guided inquiry about phenomena occurring in their local environment.

Chelsea Salba is a high school science teacher at Dike-New Hartford. She said, “I love it all because the old way of doing things was ‘know and understand.’ Well, science is not memorizing facts and figures. It never has been. NGSS challenges teachers to make science actually happen in their classrooms. What I mean by that is [the students] are investigating, reading, creating a claim, doing something, getting feedback and then doing it again.”

Ted Neal, clinical associate professor in the College of Education and project lead, explained that eighth grade NGSS curriculum requires education about the natural systems and climate science. During morning and afternoon breakout sessions, teachers were asked to provide feedback about lesson plans related to how and why Iowans have changed the land and how climate change has affected local landscapes. These lesson plans, bundles five and six, are a part of a six bundle curriculum required by NGSS for eighth grade students. CGRER researchers Scott Spak and Charles Stanier developed their content as a part of the College of Education and CGRER’s effort to connect Iowa educators with local climate science in realtime.

Approved by the Iowa Board of Education in 2015, the bulk of the 8th grade NGSS curriculum will be implemented in Iowa schools next semester. The Iowa K-12 Climate Science Education Initiative team has recently developed a free and public online pressbook where Iowa teachers can access course-related climate science data from CGRER researchers, as well as lesson plans and suggestions from other Iowa teachers.

Ted Neal explained, “This whole curriculum is free. Use it how you want, where you want, how you want, we’re just trying to compile this together for school districts in a time when budgeting is so tight.”

The NGSS standards require students of all ages to understand Earth’s systems. Scott Spak, assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning, said, “Of the dozens of standards, there are 36 that from kindergarten through high school that are required to be able to understand how the climate system works.”

Spak and his fellow CGRER researchers will provide data that is relevant to learners specifically in the Hawkeye State.

Drew Ayrit is high school teacher from Waco that participated in last weekend’s workshop. He said, “I really believe in the standards because it’s very student-centered, students doing real science, students engaging in discussion based on evidence.”

EnvIowa Podcast: Next generation science standards come to Iowa


enviowa-logo
(Jonnie 5 Apparel)
Jenna Ladd | September 29, 2016

The University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research is proud to present the first episode of its new monthly podcast, EnvIowa. Each month, EnvIowa hosts Jenna Ladd and Jake Slobe will discuss environmental news, research, and initiatives that affect Iowans.

To kick off season one, EnvIowa discusses the coming introduction of new science standards to schools across the Hawkeye state with Scott Spak, assistant professor of urban and regional planning and civil and environmental engineering, and Ted Neal, clinical science instructor at the University of Iowa. The podcast explores the ins and outs of the Next Generation Science Standards, what researchers know about how climate science is currently being taught in the state, and how the new standards will enhance learning for students.

Listeners can access the podcast below or find it on iTunes.

Next month we will discuss the upcoming Climate Festival with University of Iowa associate professor of chemistry, Besty Stone.

On The Radio – 3rd annual Iowa Climate Science Educators Forum combines teaching and research


Drake University’s David Courard-Hauri speaks during the Climate Science Educators Forum at Des Moines University on Friday, October 9, 2015. ©2015 KC McGinnis
November 16, 2015

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at the 3rd annual Iowa Climate Science Educators Forum – held last month at Des Moines University – which gave science educators the opportunity to learn about the most up-to-date climate-related research as well as methods for effectively teaching their students about climate change.

Transcript: 3rd annual Climate Science Educators Forum

Science researchers, professors, and instructors came together last month to discuss effective methods for teaching climate-related issues to college students.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The third annual Iowa Climate Science Educators Forum took place at Des Moines University last month. The event attracted roughly 30 students, instructors, and researchers from nine different academic institutions in Iowa. Presenters from the state’s public universities as well as private and community colleges discussed climate-related courses they taught and provided suggestions for effectively engaging students, many of whom are undergraduates.

In addition to discussing teaching techniques, presenters also discussed current climate-related research and how it can be applied to different courses and lesson plans. Drake University environmental science and policy professor David Courard-Hauri felt that the event was effective at bridging the gap between the big universities where research takes places and the smaller colleges where the focus is more on teaching.

DAVID COURARD HAURI: “As we’ve been learning today there are all kinds of different ways to think about climate education and common problems that we have, common ideas that we want to get across. So we thought it would be fun this time to have two sections: one on teaching climate and climate-related issues and one on active research. And that seems to have been really successful.”

For more information about the Climate Science Educators Forum, visit Iowa-Environmental-Focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

https://iowaenvironmentalfocus.org/2015/10/09/3rd-annual-iowa-climate-science-educators-forum/