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- January 1, 2007 - December 31, 2011
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impact statement impact
- The project was funded in August 2007, and work initiated toward the end of 2007. We anticipate many contributions to upper elementary and middle-level students and teachers. Many teachers expressed interest in participating in the summer 2008 workshop, and we have begun pilot testing lessons in a seventh-eighth grade classroom. The rationale for working with these particular grade level groups is to contribute to the learning progression of concepts related to evolution and the nature of science. We plan to also interest non-mainstream students who are currently underrepresented in the sciences. In writing the grant proposal to the National Science Foundation, Dr. Crawford involved two doctoral students in the writing team during the course of one year. I believe this experience enhanced their abilities to write similar grants to funding agencies, and to impact their teaching of future graduate students during their careers.
impact statement issue
- First, many elementary- and middle-level children, as well as teachers, lack a basic understanding of concepts of evolution, inquiry, and the nature of science. At the college level, many students still do not understand the nature of science or evolutionary concepts. For the most part, there is a lack of research concerning children's understanding of evolutionary processes. Second, many students, including those of underrepresented groups, begin to lose interest in science in middle school. Studies indicate that authentic science learning experiences may motivate these students in science learning. However, opportunities for children to engage in authentic fieldwork are limited in urban settings. A third important area this project addresses is that science teachers need interesting and authentic resources and interactive materials related to evolution, inquiry, and the nature of science beyond those generally available in the classroom. Teachers may not feel comfortable or well prepared to teach evolutionary theory. Unlike other content areas of science, evolution lacks actual real-world opportunities in the classroom. The populations affected include all citizens, starting with young children to older adults.
impact statement response
- We have initiated the first three of the four components of the project: (1) scientific work, (2) educational materials development, (3) educational assessments, and (4) website development. (1) The Scientific Team led by co-principal investigators Dr. Allmon and Dr. Ross is working on identifying a site from which fossil samples will be removed, labeled, and packaged for shipping. The team has started to develop identification keys to enable teachers and students to identify fossils, including brachiopods, crinoids, trilobites, corals, clams, and others, and develop protocols for measuring specimens. (2) The materials development team co-led by Dr. Barbara Crawford and Dr. Ross and doctoral students Daniel Capps and Xenia Meyer are beginning to develop instructional materials for teachers to use in their classrooms. We developed a brochure to market the project, and many teachers have contacted us about their interest and have sent in their applications. We anticipate selecting two teachers in each of grades fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth and two other teachers from ninth or 10th grade to add expertise in teaching earth science and biology in secondary schools. The Materials Development Team is beginning to plan and conduct a five-day worksession in August at the Museum of the Earth, to immerse P-1 teachers in the fossil inquiry; (3) The Research Team led by Dr. Crawford is identifying assessments, pre-post instruments (working with the external evaluator), interview protocols and video analysis of lessons from classrooms in order to track teachers' and students' developing understandings of evolutionary theory, inquiry, and NOS.
impact statement summary
- The Fossil Finders project engages children in classrooms across the country in an authentic investigation of Devonian fossils. Goals include supporting children in the use of evidence in constructing explanations of natural phenomena and motivating culturally and linguistically diverse groups of children to engage in learning science. The project is a collaboration of Cornell University Department of Education and the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) in Ithaca, N.Y. Classrooms from two grade spans (fifth-sixth and seventh-eighth) receive shipped samples of layers of shale from an Upstate New York outcrop and enter data on an interactive website, where children learn how to identify the fossils they find and add their own data to an emerging database.
Other federal funding
- National Science Foundation
- Allmon, Warren Douglas Researcher
- Crawford, Barbara A Researcher
- Ohio Evaluation and Assessment Center for Mathematics and Science Education Partner (Ohio Evaluation and Assessment Center for Mathematics and Science Education)
- Paleontological Research Institution; New York Partner (Paleontological Research Institution)
- Ross, Robert Researcher
- Both Basic Research and Applied Research
- Crawford, Barbara A Cornell Faculty Member
USDA area other
- Learning and Teaching About Evolution and How Our Environment Has Changed