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Ecology Disrupted

School of Education
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Ecology Disrupted

USING REAL SCIENTIFIC DATA ABOUT DAILY LIFE TO LINK ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES TO ECOLOGICAL PROCESSES IN SECONDARY SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASSROOMS


Yael Wyner (Lead PI, ywyner@ccny.cuny.edu, CCNY), Rosamond Kinsler (PI, American Museum of Natural History), Jonathan Becker (Co-PI, Virginia Commonwealth University), Rob DeSalle (Co-PI, American Museum of Natural History)

We have refined and tested two case study units on contemporary issues in ecology for urban middle and high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies are based on two Science Bulletins, digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), which use current scientific data to link ecological principles to real-world environmental issues, and to link issues to human daily life. One unit asks: “How might snowy and icy roads affect Baltimore’s water supply?” The other asks: “How might being able to drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in just four hours put bighorn sheep at risk?” The units provide source material and real data for students to investigate these questions, video profiles of scientists that engage students in the science and the research, and the Museum Science Bulletins media for students to analyze and connect the questions to broader ecological principles and issues. We used these modules to research the following question: “Can curricular units that link environmental issues to ecological principles through analysis of real data from published research on the environmental impacts of familiar everyday activities improve student learning of ecological principles, personal and human environmental impacts and the nature of scientific activity?” Randomized control trials in the classrooms of 19 ninth grade NYC public school teachers were used to evaluate the efficacy of the modules.  Assessment items from New York State Regents exams were reviewed and new assessment items were developed, field tested, and analyzed for validity and reliability. Students in the experimental and control classrooms were pre- and post-tested using the assessments.  In addition, teachers completed pre-post surveys, and stratified samples of teachers were observed and interviewed. Analyses indicate that treatment students showed significantly higher gains than control students on learning of ecological principles and human impact.We developed a summative module on oyster harvesting in the Chesapeake Bay. All the curricular resources are being disseminated online through the website of the American Museum of Natural History. Currently, we are developing a compendium of Ecology Disrupted case studies to distribute as an environmental science workbook.

Funding:$997,511, NSF Discovery Research

Website(s): http://www.amnh.org/apps-and-kiosks/ecology-disrupted/
http://wynerlab.wordpress.com/