The LEO EnviroSci Inquiry Web site is a new K-12 outreach project from
LEO - the Lehigh Earth Observatory and the SERVIT (Science Education
Research in Visual Instructional Technologies)Group in the College of
Education at Lehigh University. EnviroSci Inquiry enables teachers,
students, and the public to learn about environmental science content
knowledge from Lehigh University LEO scientists and interns. Learning
activities actively engage participants in data collection, analyzing
data, working with Global Information Systems (GIS) databases, and engaging
in science-specific pedagogical practices that incorporate Web-based
and other technologies to be implemented into the science classrooms.
Environmental science curricular activities enable students to use Microcomputer
Based (MBL) and Calculator-based laboratory (CBL) probeware, Web-based
telecommunication tools, QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR), and other
Internet resources to learn about environmental issues. Curricular activities
will emphasize student-directed scientific discovery of their local
environment aligned to the National Science Education Standards and
the National Geography Standards.
The key goals of the LEO EnviroSci Inquiry Web site are:
1. Actively engage K-12 students in authentic scientific inquiry that will enhance
existing classroom curricula.
2. K-12 students in learning scientific content, concepts, and processes by
integrating a variety of instructional technologies into science curricular
3. Create an innovative Web-facilitated project linking together research scientists,
university students, science educators, inservice teachers, preservice teachers,
and students to translate current scientific knowledge and practices into teaching
4. Enhance the professional development of inservice and preservice teachers
to develop new skills and gain a new level of confidence that empowers them
to become effective leaders and advocates for science education.
The key objectives of the LEO EnviroSci Inquiry Web site are:
1. To develop a Web-based support network to facilitate inquiry-based pedagogical
practices into classroom curricula.
2. To develop environmental science curricular activities that translate current
scientific practices into teaching content and practices using Microcomputer-based
and Calculator-based laboratory probeware, GIS resources, Web-based telecommunication
tools and other Internet resources.
3. Produce new environmental science curricular activities on the Internet to
be used their classrooms. These activities will be aligned to the National Science
Education Standards, the National Geography Standards, and the Pennsylvania
Department of Education Proposed Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology.
4. To engage K-12 students in interdisciplinary science curricula that emphasizes
student-directed scientific discovery of their local environment.
5. To facilitate student understandings of time and spatial scales of natural
systems with an emphasis on interactions between society and environment through
use of curriculum and use of the LEO databases.
The EnviroSci Inquiry project is currently supported by LEO (Lehigh
Earth Observatory) which is operated largely by undergraduate students in conjunction
with faculty, research and technical staff, and graduate student mentors. LEO
was piloted in the spring of 1997 and is currently in its first full year of
operation. The Observatory is housed in the Department of Earth and Environmental
Sciences (EES) at Lehigh University. LEO is a multidisciplinary program to focus
study on the environment, broadly defined, with a particular emphasis on understanding
the science of environmental systems and the relationship between these systems
and society. LEO's multidisciplinary projects create opportunities for students
and faculty from all of Lehigh's four colleges to collaborate in cross-functional,
team-based problem-solving. More than 100 students have now been involved directly
as LEO student interns, and several hundred students have participated in LEO
through a variety of courses ranging from introductory labs aimed at non-science
majors to upper-level courses. LEO has the potential to involve up to 25 percent
of Lehigh undergraduates, roughly 1,000 students in a given year. The Observatory
provides a unique mechanism to involve a large number of students in an inquiry
based cooperative learning program - thus bringing a new dimension to the curriculum.
A key component of LEO is partnerships with organizations outside
the University. These partnerships place our students in settings that provide
significant experiential learning opportunities with immediate impact. They
also provide needed skills, labor, and expertise for external organizations,
and extend our mentoring network to include professionals in a variety of disciplines,
with a variety of perspectives, from outside the University. Current partners
involved in LEO EnviroSci Inquiry include: Wildlands Conservancy, the National
Park Service Historical Corridor, The SERVIT Group (NC State), National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Bethlehem Works, Walnutport Lockkeepers
Association, The Historic Bethlehem Partnership, PA Game Commission, Easton
Historical Society, and Historic Catasauqua Preservation Association.
LEO EnviroSci Inquiry is a member of the Synergy Communities
Aggregating Learning about Education (SCALE). SCALE members include researchers,
scientists, curriculum developers, and educators who were actively working on
innovative approaches to supporting learning about water quality and who were
particularly interested in the potential for collaboration with other groups
engaged in similar work. This project, located at the University of California
at Berkeley, is a National Science Foundation-sponsored grant that seeks to
explore ways to better support cumulative research within learning technologies.
Description of the Website
LEO EnviroSci Inquiry is indexed into five interconnected areas:
- Lehigh River Watershed Explorations
- Environmental Issues
- Data Collection Activities
Curricular activities actively engage learners in data collection,
analyzing data, working with Web-based Global Information Systems (GIS) databases,
and learning in interdisciplinary contexts. The Website enables classroom teachers
to implement science teaching strategies that incorporate Web-based and other
technologies into the classroom. Curricular activities emphasize student-directed
scientific discovery of their local environment. The Website's
Educator's Guide provides instructional strategies for incorporating the
Web-enhanced activities into the classroom.
Lehigh River Watershed Explorations
The main goal of Lehigh
River Watershed Explorations area is to present science to K-12 learners
in a historical perspective by engaging them in a detailed study of the Lehigh
River watershed. This watershed has a very rich history that presents learners
with a unique opportunity to observe how the American industrial revolution
has impacted a watershed over time. Stories are presented in the History
of the Lehigh Watershed section that enable learners to explore science
from a historical perspective and to observe how science and technology may
impact society over time.
The Lehigh River Watershed
Photojournal provides learners with the opportunity to virtually explore
the Lehigh River watershed. The photojournal contains MPEG movie watershed flybys
that provide the learner with a graphical overview of the topography of the
area. GPS (Global Positioning) coordinates index the photojournal. In addition
to digital images of the area, the photojournal Web pages contain short MPEG
video clips and QuickTime Virtual Reality panoramas that allow learners to zoom
in on specific physical features.
The Water Quality section
contains background information and protocols that assist learners using Vernier
CBL (Calculator-Based Laboratory) units and graphing calculators to collect
water quality data. Data reporting forms are provided on the Website that enable
learners to submit collected data to the LEO water quality database. This data
can then be compared to other water quality data located on the Website. Web-based
data links to the Lehigh River's USGS (US Geologic Survey) monitoring stations
provide river flow data and real-time discharge data.
The GIS (Geographical Information
Systems) section contains a variety of interactive maps of the Lehigh watershed.
GIS mapping provides a spatial framework for analyzing environmental data such
as water quality data and relating it to the characteristics of the land around
it. Unlike static maps (such as the road maps you get at the gas station), GIS
not only lets you view a map, but also lets you query the map for information
that is not displayed. Figure 1 is an example of a land use map from the watershed.
The River Explorations
and Curricular Activities sections
provide innovative inquiry-based water quality and watershed studies activities
developed by our research group and partner organizations.
The Environmental Issues area
contains links to Science-Technology-Society (STS) issues-based approach simulations
developed by our research group and partner organizations. These simulations
provide learners with the experience of learning science and technology in the
context of human experience involving real-life controversial issues. Engaging
in an authentic issues makes environmental science instruction current and part
of the real world. In these simulations, learners investigate a real-world controversial
issue from different perspectives. After they complete their investigation,
a public forum or debate is conducted to determine the next course of action
on the issue. Classroom debates on STS issues offer learners a forum to think
critically about the role that science plays in societal issues. These simulations
acknowledge the connection between science and the decisions individuals make
about social issues.
The Shell Island Dilemma is one example in this section. The scenario
of the dilemma is that the Shell Island Resort is in danger of being destroyed
by a migrating inlet. Masons Inlet is moving south rapidly. The Shell
Island Resort is currently situated in an Inlet Hazard Zone and is in dire straits.
The objective is to investigate the issues concerning the fate of the Shell
Island Resort and then to debate the future of this and other oceanfront structures
threatened by coastal erosion. As learners engage in the investigation, they
must identify the social, political and scientific issues with which different
stakeholders must deal. The learners are placed into the role of one of the
stakeholders. Web-based materials are provided for student research.
The Geology area contains
interactivities for learners to use virtual reality in their science investigations.
Which Way Is North? is an activity that
allows learners to develop skills in understanding location by exploring a variety
of unique geological formations using QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas
and topographic maps. Dino Inquiry
allows learners to explore a variety of dinosaur fossil bones from the Dinosaur
National Monument quarry using panoramas and digital still imagery. Geologic
Explorations allows one to explore a variety of unique geological formations
through the use of QTVR. The Wonderful
World of Rocks and Minerals is a Web-enhanced geology unit for designed
for grade six classrooms.
The Weather area contains
two distinct curricular resources for learners to explore weather phenomena.
Phenomenal Weather Explorations
is a series of guided Web-based Explorations of unique weather phenomena designed
for learners in grades 4-8. In these explorations, students learn the science
of hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, and the Green House effect. The second
resource, Bits of Biomes, provides a learning environment that uses a guided
inquiry-based approach for learners to investigate characteristics of biomes
including climatic differences, populations, and ecosystems in terrestrial biomes.
In Bits of Biomes, learners
investigate the driving question: "Do selected cities in our study really
exhibit the characteristic climatic conditions of their defined biome?"
Learners work in groups to collect climatic data on selected cities that characterize
different biomes. They use spreadsheets to explore patterns in their climatic
data. Climatic data in different biomes are compared. The groups research characteristics
of a particular biome that includes people and culture, animal life (vertebrates
and invertebrates), plant life, and economic conditions. Each group contributes
a section to a class "World Travel Book." The "World Travel Book"
can be a class Web site, a hypermedia artifact, or a traditional paper artifact.
Throughout the implementation of the unit, students participate in hands-on
experiments that focus their learning on topics that include habitats, predator/prey
relationships, adaptations to environments, and food chains.
Data Collection Activities
The Data Collection Activities area
connects learners to a variety of earth and environmental science data sets
and collection activities currently underway at LEO (Lehigh Earth Observatory).
The LEO WeatherNet is an electronic network of weather and water monitoring
stations. Learners can access real-time and archived weather data from weather
and water monitoring stations near the Lehigh University Campus and from lake
monitoring stations on the Pocono Plateau. The LEO hydroprobe area contains
a database of water quality data taken from a hydroprobe located on the lower
reaches of the Lehigh River. The probe measures a variety of water quality parameters
and is logged on an hourly basis. Classroom learners use this data to examine
temporal patterns of the health of the river. The LEO Seismic Station area contains
data from a broadband seismic station located on South Mountain at Lehigh University.
Data collected from the seismic station provides information on active seismicity
in northeastern Pennsylvania. This station is a part of the Northeastern Regional
Seismic Network, which monitors earthquake activity in the eastern U.S. In addition
to learning about earthquakes, learners can link to the GSN (Global Seismic
Network) maintained and operated jointly by IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutes
in Seismology) and the US Geological Survey. The Salamander Response to Climate
Change project (SRCC) focuses on the use of salamanders as a natural indicator
of changes in environmental conditions. Learners can access current research
being conducted in Northeast Pennsylvania at South Mountain, Hawk Mountain,
and the Lacawac Sanctuary to examine salamander activity in relation to environmental
conditions. Environmental data, recorded on data loggers in the field, can be
compared with salamander activity levels to predict salamander response to climate