COSEE-OS aims to bring ocean literacy and current scientific content into both formal classrooms and informal education settings across the country. As part of a COSEE-OS grant that builds on the success of an interdisciplinary, semester-long class offered by the University of Maine, the University of New Hampshire has developed a new academic collaboration between the Departments of Education and Earth Sciences. Ongoing during spring semester 2010, the novel Exploring Informal Science Education Through Ocean Inquiry course explores the potential an ocean context offers for teaching a range of science topics. This program integrates fundamental concepts with “big picture” connections and resources in a highly flexible and engaging delivery system. Students involved include advanced science undergraduates, early Masters students, and in-service science educators.
Ocean science content, educational theory, and instructional best practices are intentionally integrated within each class session. A wide variety of approaches are presented, among them concept mapping, basic computer modeling, laboratory/field experiences, and inquiry-based techniques; web-based resources from COSEE-OS are utilized throughout the semester while lab exercises draw heavily from those developed by the University of Maine. Students are further engaged in field trips and interactions with professionals who merge the fields of science and education on a daily basis; mini-teaching opportunities serve as one of the culminating course elements. By reaching out to the next generation of Earth and marine scientists and educators early in their academic and professional careers, we hope to instill effective communication and instructional skills and encourage outreach. These students are the future of scientific research and education reform; inspiring them to engage in interdisciplinary learning, collaborative problem-solving and sustainable community involvement will only make them more effective catalysts for constructive change and environmental stewardship in years to come.
This paper was written by D. Goodwin, J. Benson, E. Abrams, J. Salisbury, A. deCharon, and J. W. Campbell and presented at the 2010 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR.