Another Day at the Beach: Unearthing Clues to a Changing Planet

A Scripps Institution of Oceanography graduate student asks teachers to use evidence from the flow of the water to discuss how sediment is transported and deposited.
by Cristina Trecha, Director, San Diego Science Project

Only in California, or make that San Diego. On September 20, middle and high school science teachers hit the beach during record-breaking heat to study the “Snowball Earth” theory (how the earth could have been completely frozen at some time more than 650 million years ago) as part of a teacher professional development program focused on how scientists gather and analyze data in the earth sciences.

Funded by the San Diego Science Project and developed through the CREATE STEM Success Initiative, the one-day program linked science teachers from Gompers Preparatory Academy and the San Diego Global Visions Academy to graduate students from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). The program provided teachers with an opportunity to explore the different types of evidence scientists grapple with to make sense of how the earth has changed over time, and to bring those methodologies and knowledge back to their science classrooms.

Language from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the new national science standards adopted by California in 2013, was part of the work.  Teachers examined concepts specific to the NGSS, including the scale of geologic time; how an explanation is developed, and the importance of the cause and effect of positive feedback loops in interpreting our changing climate over time.

Teachers explore the geologic time scale.

SIO graduate students each brought a unique perspective to the program relating directly to their research. SIO’s Emily Wei helped the teachers develop a new way of looking at the geology of the San Diego area coastline.  Sarah Shackelton, another SIO grad, will head to Antarctica this fall.  She looks forward to staying connected to the teachers’ classrooms online and in person.

Wish you were here: The group poses for a picture capturing the excitement of the day.
Wish you were here: The group poses for a picture capturing the excitement of the day.

The San Diego Science Project is working to link more SIO graduate students with local science teachers to help strengthen NGSS learning in area schools.

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