MONMOUTH – This upcoming school year will be quite different for professors William Schoenfeld and Adele Schepige as they are on sabbatical to develop climate change curriculum to be used in K-8 classrooms. The project, funded by a grant from NASA, will be field tested this spring at Faulconer-Chapman School in Sheridan, Ore.
Dr. Schoenfeld, associate professor of physics, and Dr. Schepige, professor of science education, conceived the Global Climate Change Institute for Teachers Team. They received a $150,000 grant, and a recent augmentation of $30,000 to fund the development of an interdisciplinary curriculum. Its content will include age appropriate hands-on activities in the earth, physical and life sciences, which will be integrated through reading, and connected to geography, social studies and mathematics. Out of 154 proposals submitted to NASA, only 22 of them were funded.
The team also consists of: Phillip Wade, WOU instructor of earth and physical science; Dr. Gwenda Rice, WOU professor of social studies education; Dr. Sue Dauer, WOU professor of teacher education; Deannie Anderson, WOU adjunct and retired Salem-Keizer science teacher, Tony Levitt NASA AESP, Dr. Laurie Padman of Earth & Space Research (ESR), Dr. Theresa Bulman, Portland State University professor of geography, and Dr. Rachel Harrington, WOU assistant professor of mathematics education.
“This curriculum will especially help K-8 educators who have been out of college for a couple of years or more. Recent graduates will have had some level of environmental education, but older educators likely wouldn’t have learned about climate change. This curriculum will provide them with that knowledge,” Schepige said.
This grant covers two years of work on the project. The first year will be curriculum development, followed by professional development workshops next summer. The 2010-11 academic year will be for revising the curriculum and incorporating it in schools within the Willamette Valley.
This curriculum will be accessible to all educators because it will incorporate lowcost, hands-on activities. It aligns well with both Oregon’s and the National Climate Literacy new standards. “It will incorporate inexpensive activities that kids can do to help them learn about the fundamental
principles that drive the climate system, and how changing it will impact our environment. We will have lots of activities that mimic how things happen in the real world,” said Schoenfeld.
This project had its genesis when Schoenfeld, a volunteer at his child’s elementary school in Corvallis, was introduced to another parent volunteer, Dr. Laurie Padman. Padman, a physical
oceanographer, who had a NASA science grant through ESR, solicited advice from Schoenfeld about developing a public outreach component to his work. Schoenfeld contacted Schepige to get her involved. In the summer of 2006, Schepige, Schoenfeld, and Padman wrote a proposal to NASA for extra funding on Padman’s science grant to add a component for education and public outreach. Schoenfeld and Schepige have continued to write proposals to grow the project, and have been adding members to the team, with each one bringing additional expertise.
Another aspect of the project is to make WOU an active Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) partner and training center. GLOBE, jointly funded by NASA
and the National Science Foundation, is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program in which children and their teachers engage in making
scientific measurements for a worldwide database. The program is active in 20,000 schools in 110 countries. At present there are no GLOBE partners in either Oregon or Washington.
In total, NASA has awarded $6.4 million in grants to institutions of higher education and not-for-profit education organizations nationwide to enhance learning through the use of NASA’s Earth science resources. These grants support NASA’s goal of engaging students in the critical disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and inspiring the next generation of explorers.
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Dr. William Schoenfeld, associate professor of physics
Dr. Adele Schepige, professor of science education