COSEE-OS Ocean-Climate Interactive Supported Science: Enhance Meaningful Learning and Teaching through Phytoplankton Investigations, K-5

Margaret Merrill
Doctoral candidate Margaret Merrill has a vision for elementary education : to provide educators with better tools and pedagogy to help them understand and teach ocean science through inquiry and technology. Margaret’s ongoing doctorate work in education included an independent study consisting of a pilot workshop for K-5 Educators focused on phytoplankton investigations. The Ocean-Climate Interactive Supported Science Workshop (held on July, 2009 at the Darling Marine Center, Walpole, ME) was created with the goal of enhancing meaningful learning and teaching through phytoplankton investigations and the use of technology.

Supported by COSEE-OS, the workshop was designed to introduce elementary educators to concept mapping and other technologies to help them to better teach science content in their classrooms. Through hands-on lab investigations and direct interaction with research scientists, the nine participating elementary teachers learned about phytoplankton's role in the local ecosystem.

Participants were shown different approaches to teaching inquiry to help them reflect upon their own methods. In addition, the teachers took part in technology training to further develop their understanding of ocean sciences. Using the Concept Map Builder and the Ocean Climate Interactive, the teachers were able to create and share rich interactive maps explaining their new areas of knowledge.

Margaret will continue to work with COSEE-OS to evaluate the new workshop model, and hopes to connect with participants in their own classrooms to see how the new content and technologies are being used to effect learning outcomes.