Community collaborations

TST Cover April 2010

Click on the cover for the Table of Contents

During April, many classes are involved with “projects” related to Earth Day themes. If you want your students to go beyond the make-a-poster-about-the-rainforest type of activity, several articles in this issue illustrate how students can become involved members of their own communities.
In Students for Sustainable Energy, physics students investigated how to reduce the need for energy or the switch to alternative forms of energy in their own community. The article has a list of project topics (generated by the students), a discussion of how community businesses and agencies became involved with the students’ projects, a description of the rubric (including a category for the underlying physics concepts used in the project, and lessons learned. NSTA’s SciLinks has lists of websites related to sustainability, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable development.
The Invasive Plant Species Education Guide describes a series of lessons developed to help students learn about the impact of these species in their own communities. (The actual lessons can be found on the project website. SciLinks also has resources on the topics mentioned in the article, including invasive species and classifying plants.  I recently looked at USDA’s National Invasive Species Information Center, Alien Invasion, Invasive Weeds, and Alien Plant Invaders.

Local air quality was the theme of the activities in The Air Up There, using the 5E Learning Cycle as a framework. The article has many examples of the graphic organizers and data tables that were used in this investigation. Detecting air pollution is one of the many collections of websites in SciLinks that relates to this topic.
In all of these research projects, sharing the results is an important part of the assessment/evaluation. As an alternative to formal reports or PowerPoint presentations, consider the “symposium” format described in Talk Like a Scientist. The student handout and rubrics are good resources.
The Science 2.0 article Wiki, Wiki! briefly describes how this web tool can be used to create communities of learners within your school as well as beyond the classroom walls to share ideas or results. For more ideas, look at the article Wikis for Science Ed Collaboration from the February issue of NSTA Reports.
Check out the Connections for this issue. Even if the article does not quite fit with your lesson agenda, this resource has ideas for handouts, background information sheets, data sheets, rubrics, etc.

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