While both public and private sectors unravel the most effective ways to educate the general population, K12 Education is tasked with developing young citizens who are wise to the human-centered domains of action listed in this year's AMS President's discussion of Annual Meeting theme. However, without an outreach component from the classroom into the community, students get more “classroom speak,” and less real-world application of their new-found knowledge.
Two years ago, as the 2013 AMS Distinguished K12 Educator, I had the privilege to present at the 23rd Education Symposium. I described a new program at our school called the Citizen Science Education Program (CSEP). While multifaceted, a main objective of the program was for middle school students to improve the scientific literacy of community citizens. Last year, this objective was accomplished by organizing and running the first ever Medford Science Summit.
Students researched their topics, interfaced with scientists and experts in those fields, procured promotional material, and established a scientific support network. In addition, students learned and demonstrated 21st century workforce skills such as verbal communication, attitude and teamwork, time management, media interaction, and e-mail etiquette. Students produced a real-world, real-time product.
During the Summit, students presented at 18 of the 21 stations. Each student station was designed using the AMS DataStreme concept of stand-alone lesson: information and activity. The topics for these “mini-lessons” follow.
Station 1: Water, the Water Cycle and Fred, the Dinosaur
Station 2: What is an “Aquifer”, anyway?
Station 3 (non-student): NJ Watershed Ambassador
Station 4: Rain Gardens: The latest in fashion for your lawn (Turning Run-Off into Groundwater.)
Station 5: I've got some beach front property in Medford?! (The truth about Sea-Level Rise)
Station 6: What happens when the lights go out? (Hurricane Sandy and other catastrophic events)
Station 7 (non-student): Power Generation Technology Solutions (Holtec International)
Station 8: What if the Earth was shaped like a…? (Earth in the Goldilocks Zone)
Station 9: Weather Maps 101 (What your forecaster is really saying!)
Station 10: If you can hear the thunder, you can be struck by the lightning! Station 11: I survived the Polar Vortex!
Station 12: How does a satellite see and why is that important to me? (Focus on GPM and GOES-R)
Station 13: G-WOW and you! (Based on the Native American and University of Wisconsin program)
Station 14: The Jersey Devil needs a new home! (Climate and the changing NJ Pinelands)
Station 15: Climate Change: The Hard Facts
Station 16: Climate Change and your Health
Station 17: Phew! It's hot out here. (Heat related illnesses and their prevention)
Station 18: Want to become a Citizen Scientist? (CoCoRaHS)
Station 19: “The Miracle Bean” (Soybeans)
Station 20: What is your EPIQ? (Emergency Preparedness IQ)
Station 21: Outside Summit Entrance (non-student)- Burlington County College, Palmyra Cove, and the Burlington County Bridge Commission have made it possible for you to visit the NASA EarthSySTEM Mobile Van.
At the conclusion of the Summit, attendees were asked to fill out a short survey. Of the over 200 people who attended, 120 completed surveys. This feedback allowed the students to objectively evaluate their performance and effectiveness during the community outreach. Students then were able to create an After-Action Report with suggestions for the 2016 Summit.
The Medford Science Summit theme was Earth System Science. Just like AMS, the students of the Medford Memorial Middle School Citizen Science Education Program chose to bring together the physical, chemical, and biological studies of the Earth under the umbrella of Earth System Science. Each student presenter encouraged participants to observe the world around them, look at and understand the latest research, and become more familiar with the modeling scientists use to evaluate data and predict changes to the Earth System. Last, but not least, CSEP students gave suggestions to attendees on how to better deal with the Earth.
This oral presentation for the 25th Symposium on Education will highlight the points delineated in this abstract, as well as encourage other K12 educators to “think out of the box” and have their students create a Science Summit, or similar activity for their community.