Integration of Image Data into Classroom Activities: Three Perspectives
Stephanie STEVENSON <email@example.com>
Paul RUSCHER <firstname.lastname@example.org>
David M. CADITZ <email@example.com>
One of the goals of science education is for students to emulate scientists as they carry out scientific inquiry. With the influx of scientific image data, a new dimension of science education has emerged. Image data supplies an immediate visual appeal to students that tables, graphs, and numeric data don't provide. This paper will discuss three projects that have used scientific image data to enrich science curriculum and train teachers in using this new data environment. All three of the projects provide not only classroom-tested curriculum but also workshop development training, as well as online professional development.
One of the goals of science education is for students to emulate scientists as they carry out scientific inquiry. With the influx of scientific image data, a new dimension of science education has emerged. Image data supplies an immediate visual appeal to students that tables, graphs, and numeric data don't provide. Research shows that interactive media which combine computer text and graphics, video, still images, and audio in classroom presentations excite and motivate as well as provide flexibility. Image processing increases the rate of data perception and interpretation by the human brain. Language processing occurs at one hundred bits per second contrasted with image processing at two hundred million bits per second. In effect, a picture is worth one million words. By visualizing information, students gain the power to see data in new and unique ways; this opens the door to original scientific discovery. As students manipulate images using image tools, they explore data in a variety of interactive processes, making image processing an ideal vehicle for exploration and open-ended discovery. This paper will discuss three projects that have used scientific image data to enrich science curriculum and train teachers using this new data environment. All three of the projects provide not only classroom-tested curriculum, but also workshop development training, as well as online professional development.
Through the medium of direct-readout satellite broadcast, students can learn to store, analyze, and process many of the same data that are observed by scientists in their laboratories. Records reveal that the fastest-growing community of users of weather satellite ground station technology is the educational community. In summer 1992, the Florida State University Department of Meteorology and the Florida Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA) established a program to place thirty National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) direct-readout satellite-data ground stations at middle and high schools throughout the state of Florida and provide the necessary training and curriculum so that these systems could be used to their maximum extent . The EXPLORES! program was created with the goal of upgrading the interest, confidence, and skill level in Florida school science and mathematics courses for both the teacher and the student.
EXPLORES! is an acronym for EXPloring and Learning the Operations and Resources of Environmental Satellites! The combination of providing the ground stations, training, and curriculum was unique when compared to all other efforts of its kind in the United States. EXPLORES! is in its fifth year of development. In that time a stable community of teachers has grown and developed, providing a collegial network of classroom teachers with a common interest in learning more about their environment. Research based upon the first three years of existence of the program has shown that advanced computer technology in the classroom works best if the teacher is initially highly motivated in the application of this technology. Teachers have been given the chance to explore, investigate, and question. Teachers have been forced to "go back to school" and reconstruct themselves as learners -- to become students again. In other words, they aren't able to "look up the answer" beforehand. The pedagogical process enables the teachers to address their current techniques and begin to question and investigate other methods of instruction, while shying away from the traditional "cookbook" approach. As a result of these actions, teachers rethink their teaching and learning strategies as participants in a workshop and as educators in the classroom and adopt different knowledge, thoughts, and practices related to their teaching. EXPLORES! is also tracking the current shuttle mission data provided by NASA via http://shuttle.nasa.gov
IMAGE-IN Online was initiated in fall 1997 with 55 online participants, representing 6 countries. It is an acronym for Imagery for Meteorological Applications and Geophysical Education on the Internet. It provides educators a free online professional development class with the following weekly topics: a WWW-based Satellite Imagery Interpretation Course, Using Your IMAGE-INation, Satellite Basics, The Tropics, Tropical Cyclones, The Mid-Latitudes, Air Masses, Extratropical Cyclones, and Fronts. A new offering in winter/spring 1998 will concentrate on winter and spring storms and phenomena.
Network Montana Project (NMP) [3,4,5] activities at Montana State University focus on the development of network-based, K-12 classroom activities and related teacher training materials. These materials integrate mathematics, science, and technology in the context of important scientific issues or themes. Not in the form of comprehensive curricula, the prototypical activities seek 1) to demonstrate the value and power of network-based information, computational, and human resources in the reform of K-12 science and mathematics education and 2) to help K-12 teachers acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to use these resources in their classrooms with confidence and enthusiasm.
On a practical level, NMP is encouraging K-12 teachers to incorporate such activities in their existing science and mathematics programs once or twice a month, as circumstances and resources permit. We believe that this level of experimentation is manageable by many teachers and substantial enough to provide evidence of growth on the part of both students and teachers. The Earth System Science Curriculum activities have been translated into Russian and are currently being translated into several other languages.
The theme Earth System Science was selected for development during Year One of the project because of the importance of the Earth Sciences in K-12 education and the wealth of available online resources. The units of instruction are
Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and the Butte area set the scene for mountain environments in the United States. Virtual reality "flyovers" of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks were developed in collaboration with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications as one aspect of these studies. Parallel studies in Russia involve sites in the Ural Mountains and the Lake Baikal area of Siberia.
The WWW version of the Earth System Science materials can be found at http://www.math.montana.edu/~nmp.
Internet-based K-12 Earth System Science Instruction, a graduate level telecomputing course for teacher support and training, began in January 1997. The course is delivered from Montana State's National Teacher Enhancement Network. It was offered in the fall semester of 1997 and continues to be offered through the summer of 1998. Participants learn to use powerful visualization and telecommunications tools to teach K-12 integrated mathematics and science lessons. Network Montana Project Earth System Science curricular materials lead teachers to a wealth of online resources. Participants adapt these materials to their own instructional environments. Montana State approved this course as Math 580, (Earth Science) ESCI 580, and (Education) EDCI 580 for two graduate semester credits.
In its infancy, the NASA CERES Project of Montana State University-Bozeman pushes the use of image data to the next level. It is being designed as an online and interactive K-12 space-science adventure called SpaceQuests. Using NASA resources with developmentally appropriate lessons at all levels, SpaceQuests focuses on fundamental questions about the solar system and the universe. The self-directed lessons, collaborative group investigations, and assessment ideas are closely aligned with the National Science Education Standards. SpaceQuests will be based on data gathered from NASA missions and then put in a format students can use to develop answers in collaborative, inquiry-based, problem-solving SpaceQuests. Current image data will be channeled through interactive image and data finders which simulate current and past NASA missions. One such virtual mission can be found at http://btc.montana.edu/ceres/dc/voyager/index.html. In support of the Quests, inquiry-based background activities develop basic space science understanding as well as the use of current NASA image data.
Graduate level science education Internet courses provide professional development in content and pedagogy. There will be two Montana State University National Teacher Enhancement Network graduate level online Science Education courses developed that will incorporate the space science activities into the course materials. The first course, Comparative Planetology: Establishing a Virtual Presence in the Solar System, started in February of 1998. The second course, Exploring the Universe with Space Observatories, will begin in the summer of 1998. These courses will be part of the recently NSF-funded distance education master's program in science education at Montana State University.