Center For Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE Ocean Systems
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Teaching Physical Sciences by Ocean Inquiry
University of Maine Semester Course SMS 491 and EDW 472

Teaching Physical Sciences by Ocean Inquiry, a COSEE-OS supported course, was offered for the first time during Spring semester 2007 at the University of Maine. This pilot course provided a unique opportunity for marine science students who are interested in incorporating an educational aspect to their science backgrounds. Whether they intend to be classroom teachers, research scientists, or informal educators, these students elected to make an investment in their future by learning strategies to effectively communicate ocean science. It was also offered in spring 2008 (see course syllabus & handouts).

The course addressed three goals: 1) helping young marine scientists to more effectively communicate their subject; 2) encouraging science majors to pursue professions where they simultaneously serve science and education; and 3) creating a greater awareness among scientists about the need for outreach. In several cases these students had initiated their own exploration in education by seeking out opportunities to teach science to young people and/or the public. With a more structured and formal approach, this course helped them to refine and reflect on their educational interests and skills by introducing them to tools and concepts that enhance their effectiveness as communicators and teachers.

Instructors utilized an inquiry-based instructional approach to learn about physical sciences content and relevant ocean examples that could be used to illustrate them. The science content was balanced with relevant pedagogical strategies that are commonly used to teach science concepts (e.g., rich question-eliciting environments, discrepant events, student prediction and initial exploration, generating hypotheses, teaching measurements, explanation/invention, practical applications, problem solving/case study, deduction-transfer of learning, and simulations and modeling).

The structure of the course was designed to enable the students to reinforce their content knowledge, organize it, decide on key concepts, and then enlist the methods they could use to teach that content. The students were also invited to discuss the social, cultural, and political dimensions of bridging the gap between science and education. Students came to recognize that research proposals today often require scientists to explain how their research may benefit society and that such activities may be tied to the greater "Ocean Literacy" campaign.


Teaching Physical Concepts in Oceanography: An Inquiry-Based Approach (Karp-Boss et al., 2009)


Chapter 1 Density
Activity 1.4 Density Flows: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 1.5 Effect of Stratification on Mixing: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Chapter 2 Pressure
Activity 2.1 Bed of Nails: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 2.3 Ready, Set, Squirt (Hydrostatic Pressure): Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 2.6 Compressibility of Gases (Boyle's Law): Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Chapter 3 Buoyancy
Activity 3.1 Mayday! (Archimedes Principle): Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 3.2 Archimedes Ball (Diving Ball): Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 3.4 Cartesian Diver: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 3.5 Lake Levels: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Chapter 4 Heat and Temperature
Activity 4.3 Natural Heat Convection: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 4.5 Heat Flow and Latent Heat: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 4.8 Reversing Density Rods: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Chapter 5 Gravity Waves
Activity 5.1 Wave Speed and Water Depth (Shallow Water Waves): Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 5.2 Internal Waves: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie
Activity 5.3 Buoyancy Oscillations: Flash Video | QuickTime Movie