Monday, 11 January 2016
Integrated Science combines introductory meteorology with second-semester physics (thermodynamics and waves) and introductory astronomy to give students the benefit of three courses in one semester. We couched these disciplines in terms of 5 over-arching themes: forces, diffusion, energy, equilibrium and fields. This course was designed to illustrate best teaching practices based on the recommendations of the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards.) This course consists primarily of active learning components with two 2-hour lab periods and one 1-hour discussion period per week. Discussions were designed to correct misconceptions, answer students' questions and pull the week's lab topics together so students see connections instead of stand-alone topics. Students were then required to complete a lab report that was designed to be a combination of a typical lab report and a reflective journal. Because we essentially changed topics every day, students started out very uncomfortable with the way this course was taught. By the end of the semester they said this course changed the way they look at the world and they rated it as one of the most important courses they had ever taken. Based on the discussions and exam scores, their understanding of the material was not just cursory, but deep and long-lasting. This presentation focuses on the overall approach to this course and the role that meteorology played in tying together concepts across disciplines. Meteorology was combined with physics and astronomy in a way that helped students learn and retain the information from all three disciplines through a strategic selection of topics. This course also illustrates how meteorology can be integrated into a typical high school physics course since it is unlikely to be taught on its own.
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