The Next Generation Science Standards place a strong emphasis on students’ mastery of “practices” of science and engineering. Among these practices is “Analyzing and interpreting data.” With funding from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education we are conducting a professional development institute to help high school and middle school teachers incorporate science practices into their student activities and classroom discourse. Teachers spent two weeks at EDC during the summer of 2014, and will participate in follow-up webinars throughout the fall semester.
To discuss the affordances of large, professionally collected datasets, teachers worked with global data visualizations of earthquakes, volcanoes, seafloor age, and bathymetry/topography. Working with scientists’ datasets allows students to address big idea, such as plate tectonics. To discuss the pedagogical opportunities of small, student-collected datasets, we had the teachers collect and interpret weather data and water quality data from the nearby Charles River. Working with self-collected datasets gives students a visceral, embodied sense of the linkage between the real world phenomenon being measured and the numbers, dots, lines, or blotches of color in the resulting data visualization.
In this photo, teachers collect dissolved oxygen data in the Charles River near the Oceans of Data Institute.