Hi all,


I absolutely agree that we need to get more good earth and space science
into elementary school.  We see the same problem in our area (Kentucky) that
Jenelle does in Nevada, but with a bit of a twist:  the elementary and
middle school TEACHERS don’t know their earth/space science content well.
I’ve spent the last three years teaching a new course at Morehead State in
inquiry earth and space science for future elementary teachers, which is
helping to solve the problem.  This is not happening nearly quickly enough,
in part because the first full cohort of freshmen to take the course will
just now be student teaching next year.  Workshops to date have not been
sufficient to address the problem among practicing teachers, as there is, in
general, little administrative support for science workshops for elementary
teachers: NCLB seems to be driving math and reading to the extreme.  


Part of the problem is cultural in Eastern Kentucky.  Earth and Space
sciences teach things that the more conservative in our area consider to be
wrong at best and heretical at worst.  I have been asked several times why I
don’t teach my class “real science,” like they do at the creationist museum
in northern Kentucky…


The second issue we ought to consider in geoscience education research is
best practices for teaching the geosciences.  I have used the full spectrum
of inquiry in my class for future elementary teachers:  based on anecdotal
evidence and as-yet-not-fully-analyzed pre- and post- data, I would suggest
that only guided inquiry has been effective in motivating student learning
and attitude improvement toward the discipline.  Are we finding the same
thing in the K-12 classroom?  


Best wishes,





Jen O’Keefe

Assistant Professor of Science

Department of Physical Sciences

Morehead State University

Morehead, KY 40351


606 783 2349 (office)

606 783 5002 (fax)


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[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jenelle D. Hopkins

Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2008 11:20 AM

To: [log in to unmask]

Subject: Re: Geoscience Education Research Info Request


I agree that we need to do more to get good geoscience into elementary
school.  With 'No Child Left Behind', hardly any science is taught in our
district.  The minutes must be used for reading and math - and most
administrators don't support teachers who try to use science as the 'hook'
to get students to want to do reading and math.  I am always amazed at how
some ideas presented in these early grades stay with the students so much
better than what I am trying to get them to remember in their teen-age years
during a high school science class.  So we need to make sure that these
teachers - who are often afraid of trying to do any science - are presenting
age appropriate and correct geoscience topics.


And how about the problem of students 'learning' science from movies and
television?  How do we 'unlearn'  these concepts - I sure can't compete with
Hollywood special effects!!!


Jenelle D. Hopkins, NBCT

Earth and Environmental Science Teacher

Centennial High School

10200 Centennial Parkway

Las Vegas, Nevada   89149

Phone:  799-3440


It is precisely for this that I love geology.  It is infinite and
ill-defined: like poetry, it immerses itself in mysteries and floats among
them without drowning.  It does not manage to lay bare the unknown, but it
flaps the surrounding veils to and fro, and every so often gleams of light
escape and dazzle one's vision.


R. Töpffer, Nouvelles genevoises (1841)