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Bangor High School Brings Inquiry-Based Oceanography Labs to Elementary Schools - 09.11.2011

As part of the Bangor School District’s (BSD) Teacher Acadamy (two days of workshops and presentations) Assistant Superintendent Donna Wolfram organized a session where high school teacher Ted Taylor spent the afternoon working with 16 district 5th grade teachers on “concepts in oceanography”. BSD 5th grade students participate in an instructional unit in oceanography lasting 5 to 6 weeks. They engage in topics involving marine life, tides, currents, and sea water chemistry. The Teacher Academy workshop was designed to give the teachers added hands-on resources and ideas for conveying concepts relating to ocean layering and currents due to density differences.

Using the COSEE-OS publication Teaching Physical Concepts in Oceanography, the teachers completed their own inquiry-based labs using density tanks (Activities 1.4 and 1.5) and a convection apparatus (Activity 4.3). By modifying the temperature and salinity of water, teachers were able to work through the necessary steps to layer water in their tanks and explain what was happening. The teachers then discussed as a group how to make the activities most appropriate for 5th grade learners. It was a very engaging and productive afternoon. The high school is now loaning the density tank equipment to other schools.

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