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The Earth Scientist

Volume XXXI • Issue 2 • Summer 2015 $10.00*


From the President........................... 2

Editor’s Corner .............................. 3

25 Years Ago in TES.......................... 4

NESTA Awards Presented in Chicago. . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Establishing a Geospatial Intelligence Pipeline

through Earth SySTEM Education................ 9

“Rocking” Inquiry: Using the Nature of Science

and Discovery to Enhance Teaching Rocks........ 15

Integrating Local Environmental Research into an

Inquiry-Based Unit on Biogeochemical Principles

in a High School Science Classroom............. 21

Advertising in The Earth Scientist............... 30

Manuscript Guidelines ....................... 31

Fine layers of Navajo sandstone (part of the Glen Canyon

Group) can be seen in Buckskin Gulch east of Page, Arizona.

This slot canyon is the longest in the world at 12 miles in

length. Formed by the erosion of the Navajo sandstone (early

Jurassic, 191-174 Ma) due to flash flooding, the walls tower

500 feet above the streambed in places.

Photo Credit: David Thesenga

*ISSN 1045-4772

Page 2

The Earth Scientist

From the President

by Dr. Michael J. Passow, NESTA President, 2014-2016

NESTA’s Mission

To facilitate and advance

excellence in Earth and Space

Science education.

NESTA Contacts



Michael J Passow



John Moore



Lisa Sarah Alter



Howard Dimmick



Missy Holzer


Board of Directors


Jenelle Hopkins


Executive Director and

Association Contact

Dr. Roberta Johnson


NESTA Webmaster

Julia Genyuk


NESTA Address:

PO Box 271654

Fort Collins, CO 80527

Visit the NESTA website at


New Beginnings/Science Ed Is International

The NESTA Presidency opens a teacher to many experiences beyond those usually found in a school

setting. So this message will focus on two of the many issues I have been dealing with recently as

your President.

First, NESTA—like all educational organizations—is going through a period when things are

changing very rapidly. As explained in the April Newsletter and elsewhere, we are in the process of

seeking an Executive Director to succeed Dr. Roberta Johnson. We are also seeking a new President-

Elect. The financial demands on NESTA—again, like almost all educational organizations—continue

to require considerable attention from your Board. We are trying to keep expenses down and

enhance our income.

So, the bottom line is that NESTA is in a reasonably strong position as we begin to implement the

Next Generation Science Standards and Framework for K-12 Science Education across our country.

We have the expertise among our members to “plant the seeds” that can “germinate” into successful

and exciting new programs for teachers and students over the next few years.

This issue of The Earth Scientist is the first as we transition to a format that is primarily online,

rather than print. The next few issues should see the beginnings of new features that will be of

value to you and your students, including expanded utilization of the potential for emerging electronic


This brings me to the second part of my message. In mid-April, I was honored to participate in

the GIFT (Geosciences Information For Teachers) Workshop at the European Geosciences Union

conference in Vienna. The EGU is one of the largest international scientific meetings in the world,

drawing more than 11,000 participants from over 100 countries. It is a venue for research scientists

from all around the globe to share cutting-edge discoveries and network with colleagues.

The American Geoscience Union Fall meeting held in San Francisco each December does get a

larger number of attendees, but because of visa and financial restrictions, it does not quite achieve

the multinational flavor of EGU. For example, it’s a lot easier to drive or take trains a few hundred

kilometers from small Eastern European countries to Vienna than to fly to the USA and deal with

our border regulations.

The theme of this year’s GIFT Workshop was “Mineral Resources.” Participants for this two-and-ahalf

day program came from 21 countries on 4 continents. We had opportunities to share ideas and

experiences about how we prepare the children of our nations for the challenges they will face in the

21st century. Some teachers came from places we might be hard-put to locate on a world map, such

as Malawi, Slovenia, Romania, and Estonia. Others came from more familiar lands, such as South

Africa, India, Turkey, and Portugal. But knowing where some place lies is not the same as understanding

what are the challenges for their teachers and students.

But the basics of the geosciences are the same everywhere. Quartz is quartz, for instance, anywhere

in the crust. So two important goals of the GIFT Workshop are to provide participants with

enhanced knowledge about the subject area and to learn from others about the educational system

in their homelands. Each of us returned home with greater appreciation of the similarities and

differences we and our colleagues around the world bring to our classes each day.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 3

If you’re interested in what was presented during this year’s EGU GIFT Workshop, or in any of the

programs since the series began in 2003, explore the resources available at https://www.egu.eu/


Editor’s Corner

As a teacher, I have watched the gradual switch from a traditional paper textbook to a digital one

with both consternation and excitement. Traditional paper textbook adoptions are deals involving

tens of millions of dollars and lock a school district into that textbook for years to come. In my

own school district, I was one member of a team of educators that worked to make the switch

to electronic. Schools are placing an increasing amount of technology in students’ hands and

including with that investment a digital textbook can justify the switch for school boards who are

looking at bottom lines. Digital textbooks can be cheaper and in the rapidly changing world of

science, potentially allow for current information to be disseminated more quickly. But in the end,

is the digital frontier better for our students? Or is the digital frontier merely about the bottom

line? Many studies have been and are being done both for and against the adoption of e-textbooks.

Regardless, the move is on …

Textbooks at the moment are growing into this new area. Initially they were PDF’s of their former

paper-selves but now they have begun to evolve – evolving due to the needs of their users: our

students and ourselves. Links to current events, increased interactives such as simulations, contact

with the world beyond our classrooms, regular updates to the material, and new ways to track

our students’ learning progress and help them to manage their time, are all beginning to appear.

The adoption of the digital textbook and the demand for these and newer tools are driving the

publishing houses forward into the 21 st century.

This issue marks the first in which The Earth Scientist becomes a fully digital journal. We are not the

first to make this transition and we will certainly not be the last but it was certainly a transition that

was a difficult one to make. Personally I enjoy paper – I like the feel of it in my hands, being able to

take notes, tear things out and file them away – all things that for the most part are not available in

a digital version. But I also read my fair share of ezines and journals and realize the format allows

for things that can only be dreamt of in a paper world.

There are good and bad examples of digital magazines and journals out there – you’ve likely experienced

both. It takes time to evolve and utilize the digital platform fully – to transition from a print

to an electronic journal. And as with textbooks, our users are our guides in this process. The Earth

Scientist is a platform for the dissemination of the best research and learning that is occurring in our

field – but at its heart it is about you and how you use the information. What are you looking for in

an electronic journal? What features would be valuable to you as you read, process, and utilize the

information contained herein? Email me your thoughts, ideas (no matter how crazy), queries, and

needs when you consider this Journal.

I invite you into the discussion as we move forward and reinvent what we can be.

David Thesenga

TES Editor

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

NESTA Contacts


Central Region - IL, IA, MN,


Paul Herder


East Central Region - IN, KY,


Jay Sinclair


Eastern Region - DE, NJ, PA

Peter Dorofy


Far Western and Hawaii

Region - CA, GU, HI, NV

Wendy Van Norden


Mid-Atlantic Region - DC, MD,


Russell Kohrs


New England Region - CT, ME,


Tom Vaughn


New York Region - NY

Gilles Reimer


North Central Region - MT, NE,


Cassie Soeffing


Northwest Region - AK, ID, OR,

WA & British Columbia

Earla Durfee


South Central Region - AR, KS,


Wendy DeMers


Southeastern Region - AL, FL,


Felecia Eckman


Southwest Region - AZ, CO,


Pamela Whiffen


Appointed Directors

Tom Ervin – tombervin@gmail.com

Ron Fabich –


Parker Pennington IV –


Rick Jones –


Joe Monaco – monacoj@aol.com

Jenelle Hopkins – jhopkins@


Jack Hentz – hentz@aaps.k12.


Page 4

The Earth Scientist



Affiliates Coordinator

Ron Fabich


Conference Logistics


Howard Dimmick


Membership Contact

Marlene DiMarco

Phone: 702-982-8349


Merchandise Coordinator

Howard Dimmick


Procedures Manual


Parker Pennington IV


Rock Raffle Coordinators

Parker Pennington IV


Wendy Van Norden


25 Years Ago in TES

Twenty Five years ago, in 1990, TES was

in its seventh year of publication. This

cover features an image of the new (in 1990),

10 NESTA Regions, replacing the original 5

NESTA Regions, to further improve service

to NESTA members. This map was accompanied

by an article explaining the change

and the naming of the Regions. Other

articles within this 1990 issue of TES, was

an article which addressed what the author

believed every citizen ought to know about the earth sciences (or what is now

called scientific literacy).

Also included, was an article describing the life and work of Frank Bursley Taylor as it

impacted the theory of continental drift. There was an article dealing with a list of student

misconceptions about the earth sciences ( e.g., “Gravity can’t exist without air.”). There

was a prophetic article addressing the peril of our “ground water” resource, asking “Is it

too late?”

Finally, there was an informational blurb encouraging membership participation in

NESTA’s Share-A-Thons at the four 1990 NSTA Regional (now called Area) Conferences

(Kansas City, Long Beach, San Juan, and Washington, D.C.), as well as the NSTA National

Conference to be held in Houston, in the Spring of 1991.

Share-a-thon Coordinator

Carla McAuliffe


Volunteer Coordinator

Joe Monaco


Webpage Coordinator

Jack Hentz


ENews Editor

Carla McAuliffe


Why should I open and read my NESTA ENews emails?

NESTA’s monthly ENews comes to your computer and provides brief summaries of stories and

projects that have a direct link to the Earth Sciences and or the teaching of Earth Science.

Many of these short articles provide links to more information or complete websites that those

interested can follow. The ENews also contains information regarding teacher opportunities for

research, professional development, and even grants. The reader will also find a calendar with

items that have time critical information or may be occurring later that month or the next. Each

month, the ENews provides links to a selected state’s Earth Science sites. For example in the

November 2012 issue we focused on Earth Science resources in Arizona, the state where in

December, 2012 the NSTA Area Conference was held.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 5

NESTA Awards Presented in Chicago,


By Tom Ervin

The National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) is a volunteer based

organization. We depend upon the efforts of our volunteers, and the support

of our sponsors to make possible the services we provide. Each year, at the NSTA

National Conference on Science Education, NESTA makes a special effort to recognize

those who give of themselves for the betterment of NESTA. This year, in Chicago, the

following people and organizations were so recognized:

A NESTA Certificate of Appreciation was presented to:

n Al Guenther – In Appreciation of Donation of large Rock and Mineral

Collection at the Long Beach Area Conference, 2014

n American Geosciences Institute (AGI) – In Appreciation of Continuing Support

of NESTA Programs

n American Geophysical Union (AGU) – In Appreciation of Continuing Support

of NESTA Programs

n American Meteorological Society (AMS) – In Appreciation of Continuing

Support of NESTA Programs

n Carolina Scientific – In Appreciation of Continuing Support of NESTA


n Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) – In Appreciation of Continuing

Support of NESTA Programs

n Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) – In Appreciation of Continuing

Support of NESTA Programs

n Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology - (IRIS) – In Appreciation of

Continuing Support of NESTA Programs


National Council for Science and the Environment - (NCSE) – In Appreciation

of Continuing Support of NESTA Programs

NESTA Certificates of Service were presented to the following NESTA members who,

during the past year, contributed to the well being of NESTA:

n Ardis Herrold – Service as NESTA Past President

n Missy Holzer – Service as NESTA President

n Michael Passow – Service as NESTA President Elect

n Alter Alter – Service as NESTA Secretary

n Chad Heinzel – Service as NESTA Central Region Director

n Paul Herder – Service as NESTA Central Region Director

n Donna Budynas – Service as NESTA Sourtheast Regional Director

n Pam Wiffen – Service as Southwest Regional Director

The Earth Scientist


David Thesenga

Publications Committee

David Thesenga, TES Editor

Susan Kelly, TES Assistant Editor

Kurtz Miller, TES Assistant Editor

Russell Kohrs

Howard Dimmick

Tom Ervin

Jack Hentz

Chad Heinzel

Lisa Alter

Linda Knight

Ardis Herrold

Carla McAuliffe, NESTA E-News Editor

Contributing authors

Peter Dorofy; John D. Moore; Rouzbeh

Nazari; Rachel J. Petrick-Finley, Ph.D.;

Christopher Roemmele; Steven Smith;

Kevin Varghese; Nicholas D. Ward, Ph.D.

The Earth Scientist is the journal of the

National Earth Science Teachers Association


The Earth Scientist is published quarterly (January,

March, June, September) and distributed to

NESTA members. Back issues of The Earth

Scientist are available for sale through the NESTA

Office for $10 per copy.

Advertising is available in each issue of The Earth

Scientist. If you wish to advertise, visit http://www.



To become a member of NESTA visit www.


To get more information about NESTA or

advertising in our publications, or to get

copies of back issues contact the NESTA

Office at PO Box 271654, Fort Collins, CO

80527 or dthesenga@gmail.com

Copyright © 2015 by the National Earth Science

Teachers Association. All rights thereunder

reserved; anything appearing in The Earth Scientist

may not be reprinted either wholly or in part

without written permission.


The information contained herein is provided as

a service to our members with the understanding

that National Earth Science Teachers Association

(NESTA) makes no warranties, either expressed

or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness,

reliability, or suitability of the information.

Nor does NESTA warrant that the use of this

information is free of any claims of copyright

infringement. In addition, the views expressed in

The Earth Scientist are those of the authors and

advertisers and may not reflect NESTA policy.


Patty Schuster, Page Designs

Printed on recycled paper.

n Roberta Johnson – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Richmond, VA

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 6

The Earth Scientist

Article Reviewers

for 2015 Summer


Peter Dorofy

Joseph Kerski

Roger Palmer

Barbaree Ash Duke

Josephine Shireen Desouza

Ron Fabich

Letica McKnight

n Russell Kohrs – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Richmond, VA

n John Moore – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Richmond, VA

n Michael Passow – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Richmond, VA

n Eric Pyle – NESTA Receiver in Richmond, VA

n Erin Widener – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Richmond, VA

n George Bartuska – NESTA Receiver in Orlando, FL

n Missy Holzer – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Orlando, FL

n Roberta Johnson – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Orlando

n Michael Passow – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Orlando, FL

n Rick Jones – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Long Beach, CA

n Joe Monaco – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Long Beach, CA

n Michael Passow – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Long Beach, CA

n Shelley Thompson – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Long Beach, CA

n Wendy Van Norden – NESTA Receiver in Long Beach, CA

n Wendy Van Norden – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Long Beach, CA

n Jan Woerner – Leadership Service at NESTA Events in Long Beach, CA

n Pauline McInerney – NESTA Receiver at NSTA in Chicago, IL

n Carol Schnaiter – NESTA Receiver at NSTA in Chicago, IL

The Thomas B. Ervin Distinquished Service Award is presented to officers and volunteers who

provide dedicated service to NESTA. In Chicago, this Recognition was presented to the following

NESTA members.

n Lisa Alter – For Services Rendered in the Promotion of Earth Science Education, and Service


n Marlene DiMarco – For Services Rendered in the Promotion of Earth Science Education, and

Service to NESTA

n Julia Genyuk – For Services Rendered in the Promotion of Earth Science Education, and

Service to NESTA

n Michael Passow – For Services Rendered in the Promotion of Earth Science Education, and

Service to NESTA

2015 Recipients of the Thomas B. Ervin Distinguished Service Award

Lisa Alter Marlene DiMarco Julia Genyuk Michael J. Passow

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 7

Fellows of the Association must have been members for at least five years and shall have contributed

substantially and with excellence to Earth Science education and to NESTA itself. In Chicago,

the following NESTA members had their membership status elevated to that of Fellow.

n Jenelle Hopkins – In Recognition of Past Achievements and Contributions to the Goals of

the Association

n Joe Monaco – In Recognition of Past Achievements and Contributions to the Goals of the


n Wendy Van Norden – In Recognition of Past Achievements and Contributions to the Goals

of the Association

2015 NESTA Fellows

Jenelle Hopkins

Joe Monaco

Wendy Van Norden

This year in Chicago, NESTA presented four additional and very special awards. This first was a

Special Version of the Thomas B. Ervin Distinguished Service Award, presented to Thomas B.

Ervin himself, in recognition, most recently, of his retirement after 7 years as the Editor of NESTA’s

journal, The Earth Scientist (TES), and in additional recognition of his many other years of service to

NESTA, in numerous positions, beginning back in 1990. This service includes two different terms

as NESTA’s President. Near here, insert the photo and caption of Tom Ervin, as figure 8.

A second, very special award was presented to Dr. Roberta M. Johnson, our retiring NESTA

Executive Director, in recognition of her nine years of truly outstanding service to NESTA, and for

her career of Nationally important service to Earth Science educators, including her development of

the hugely popular and useful earth science on-line resource, Windows to the Universe ©.

Tom Ervin (middle) receiving a special version of the Thomas B. Ervin

Distinguished Service Award from NESTA President, Dr. Micheal J. Passow (R)

and NESTA Executive Director, Dr. Roberta M. Johnson (L)

Dr. Roberta M. Johnson receiving her plaque in Recognition

of her nine years of outsanding service to NESTA, as our

Executive Director. The plaque is being presented by NESTA

President, Dr. Micheal J. Passow (L)

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 8

The Earth Scientist

And finally, NESTA’s highest award, the Jan Woerner and Harold B. Stonehouse Award for

Lifetime Achievement, was presented to each of two individuals. Parker O. Pennington IV was

presented with the Jan & Stoney Award for his extraordinary contributions to Earth Science education

in Michigan and also at the National level, over an entire distinguished career.

The second Jan Woerner and Harold B. Stonehouse Award for Lifetime Achievement, was presented to

Howard T. Dimmick for his extraordinary contributions to Earth Science education in New

England and also at the National level, over an entire distinguished career.

Parker O. Pennington IV (middle) receiving the Jan Woerner and Harold B.

Stonehouse Award for Lifetime Achievement, from NESTA President, Dr. Micheal

J. Passow (R) and NESTA Executive Director, Dr. Roberta M. Johnson (L)

Howard T. Dimmick (middle) receiving the Jan Woerner and Harold B.

Stonehouse Award for Lifetime Achievement, from NESTA President, Dr. Micheal

J. Passow (R) and NESTA Executive Director, Dr. Roberta M. Johnson (L)

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 9

Establishing a Geospatial

Intelligence Pipeline

through Earth SySTEM


John D. Moore 2 , Peter Dorofy 1&2 , Kevin Varghese 1 , Rouzbeh Nazari 1


Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Rowan University


American Council of STEM Educators


The increasing demand for acquisition and interpretation of geospatial intelligence

continues to increase in both government and industry; students currently have little to

no opportunity to engage in authentic investigations, or even exposure, to the geosciences,

remote sensing, and geospatial technologies. These are fundamental principles of Earth

SySTEM. There is a growing concern about how these careers of the 21 st century will be

able to maintain a sustainable workforce unless a precollege to graduate course of study,

referred to as a “pipeline” is developed. This article includes an undergraduate’s perspective

and project experience which demonstrates how students, educators and scientists can

work together creating a new paradigm for learning.

Engaging Students in Earth SySTEM

As Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education emerges in response to

national initiatives and the workforce, there is little opportunity for students to study earth as a

system, not to mention using software tools that view data through the eyes of technology in the

precollege environment. Just like any precollege school student, the Earth is constantly changing

and it is essential for everyone to monitor and understand these changes. The Earth is fluid and

dynamic, which requires constant observations and monitoring to understand what is happening

on a physical level, and the impact on life and property. There are many programs that can help

precollege students learn about the Earth’s physical properties, while developing a 21 st century

workforce skillset, unfortunately professional software is often costly and this often makes utilizing

earth science software in precollege education prohibitive. In addition, some scientists, geographic

information systems (GIS) professionals, and teachers have questioned if precollege students are

even able to engage in these types of activities and/or software applications. The facts are that

affordable programs are available for teachers to gain professional development in this area as

well as lessons to introduce topics directly into their classroom. One such program is “Eyes in the

Sky II” (https://serc.carleton.edu/teachearth/site_guides/GIS.html). A joint initiative between the

White House and ESRI is the ConnectED initiative (www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/k-12/

connected), (http://connected.esri.com). Another is GeoTEd, funded by the National Science

Foundation, supports “educators receiving training and resources to prepare future workforce in

geospatial technology”.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 10

The Earth Scientist

In reference to a student’s capabilities of engaging in such activities the following case is presented:

without any prior knowledge in remote sensing, an undergraduate student was able to study

snow retraction on the Novatek Glacier in Alaska with free image processing software, ImageJ and

Multispec. With help from an experienced graduate student, the undergrad learned more advanced

skills, such as how to stack images of the glacier throughout the past few decades and view the

retraction of snow cover from that area. The creation of the pipeline not only provides an academic

pathway, but presents opportunities for mentorship and exposure to more complicated projects,

the next step in the student’s future. In a workforce readiness pipeline, information and experiences

are able to flow in both directions. All parties in the pipeline can contribute information,

data, experiences, and receive information, data,

and experience. There are numerous examples of

teachers-professors-scientists collaborating on

projects, grants etc. These types of relationships

can be established between middle school, high

school, undergraduate, and graduate students as

well. This adds the element of “rigor” through

working on authentic science projects which

addresses frequent criticism of the Earth Sciences.

This level of rigor must be established in the US

workforce to insure competitiveness in the future

global economy and national security.

Figure 1. Rowan University

student Kevin Varghese,

developing Geospatial

Technology skills for future

career opportunities

The National Science Foundation (NSF)

Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) states that

“technology-rich environments can help retain

students in all parts of the pipeline from K-12 through graduate school. Interactive technology

tools can help students learn and retain information better than traditional classroom lectures

as they can also be tailored to multiple learning styles and abilities.” (Dynamic Earth: GEO

Imperatives and Frontiers 2015-2020, pg.24, NSF, 2014.)

However, students cannot enter the pipeline unless they know that it exists. “GEO-supported disciplines

often differ from other scientific disciplines in the lack of a discrete path from high school

to undergraduate studies to graduate studies. Therefore, GEO recognizes and supports the need

to recruit and retain undergraduates by exposing them early to the geosciences.” (Dynamic Earth:

GEO Imperatives and Frontiers 2015-2020, pg.21, NSF, 2014.)

Figure 2. National Geospatial-

Intelligence Agency (www.nga.

mil/) provides imagery, mapbased

intelligence and geospatial

information in support of the

nation’s military forces, national

policy makers and civil users.

A civil engineering major, stated, “I wish I had more exposure to and knowledge in earth studies

software, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) prior to starting college. I am personally

grateful that I took the chance to learn remote sensing and hopefully spread the knowledge to

others. This way we can all gain more information about how the Earth

acts and needs to be treated.” Fortunately, this student found the

pipeline and took the chance that it would be of beneficial use in

their career. Geospatial Intelligence professionals agree. “You

really need to get kids interested in STEM in elementary

school by showing them all the exciting opportunities that

sciences, technology, engineering and math can provide

them throughout their education towards their future

careers. I think it’s fair to say that NGA, as well as the

entire intelligence community, recognizes that maintaining

the flow of people into these career fields is really a national

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 11

security priority.” - Ellen McCarthy, Chief Operating Officer of the National Geospatial-Intelligence

Agency (NGA) (Budik, L., WashingtonExec, October 14, 2014).

Using Remote Sensing in EarthSySTEM

Students have the opportunity to engage many of the fundamental principles and skillsets of Earth

SySTEM education namely, satellite imagery, remote sensing, and computer visualizations through

working on authentic problems that confront society such as climate, sustainability, conservation

of natural resources, and energy. For example, through monitoring the retention or use of various

habitats, information can be used to help allocate natural resources effectively. Urbanization,

deforestation, and desertification are all effects of land use that are recordable

through remote sensing. These issues caused by poor land use can help reduce

the damage.

Natural disasters are often tracked through remote sensing. Satellite imagery

can give accurate images of the path of a hurricane over time. Earthquakes,

tornados, and floods are also tracked similarly. Remote sensing has helped

prevent life loss through early warning and damage assessment. Information

gained after a disaster also helps plan for future damage prevention. The

American Meteorological Society has adopted a policy statement, Earth System

STEM Education that promotes the principles of Earth SySTEM. Many Earth

Science standards found in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS),

such as MS-ESS3-2, MS-ESS 3-5, 5-ESS 2-1 can be met with this type of innovative


A study, conducted by Civil and Environmental Engineering students at Rowan

University in New Jersey, examined how applications of remote sensing to study

snow and ice detection. Future generations of students won’t just be taught about the effects of

climate change, but be able to create snow maps that can used in identifying elements of climate

change, for example, sea level rise.

Figure 3. MODIS Image CA Coast

true color

The NDSI Project

The Normalized Difference Snow Index (NDSI) is a snow-mapping algorithm that is derived from

the reflectance of certain visible and infrared wavelengths as observed by sensors onboard earthorbiting

satellites. The difficult part of this project is separating the clouds from snow; clouds

reflect a similar color wavelength as snow. This project includes creating snow maps using NDSI

to differentiate snow from the vegetation and cloud on the map. One contingency on how we

approach this problem is that we wanted to only use basic free image processing software such as

ImageJ and Multispec. Advanced expensive software such as ERDAS can already effectively apply

NDSI to an image to create accurate snow maps. However, students who are just developing an

interest in remote sensing can now apply NDSI on easy to learn and free programs.

The NDSI calculation ranges from -1.0 to 1.0. If NDSI 0.4, the pixel is classified as snow (Hall et al.,

1995). The following equation is used to calculate the NDSI (units in µm):

NDSI = 0.56 −1.610.56+1.61≥0.4

A number of satellite sensors operate with the required bands for NDSI calculation. For example,

the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors onboard the satellites

Terra and Aqua. Band 4 (0.545-0.565 µm) and band 6 (1.628-1.652 µm) of MODIS, can be used

in the NDSI algorithm (Justice et al., 1998). Correspondingly, on board the Landsat 8 satellite, the

Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensor includes band 3 (0.53-0.59 µm) and band 6 (1.57-1.65 µm).

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 12

The Earth Scientist

Figure 4. ImageJ and Multispec

are open source image analysis

programs (www. imagej.nih.

gov/ij/ and https://engineering.


(below left to right)

Figure 5. Coast of California in

“natural color” RGB

Figure 6. MODIS Band 4 (0.545-

0.565 µm)

Figure 7. MODIS Band 6 (1.628-

1.652 µm)

MODIS has a spatial resolution of 0.25 km to 1.0 km and a temporal

resolution of every one to two days. OLI has a spatial resolution of

from 15 m to 30 m and a temporal resolution of about 16 days. By

taking images from each sensor, one is able to review which sensor is

best for creating snow maps.

ImageJ and Multispec are the two free image processing software

that were learned and used for this project. Beginning the project,

and without any experience, in less than 2 weeks the undergraduate

student was able to create a nearly completed procedure for creating

snow maps. This demonstrates that applying remote sensing in

pre-college settings, where students won’t have any experience, will not be too advanced for the

students. Considering that all the software used is open source, schools will not need to increase

the budget to apply remote sensing in their curriculum. Students will need guidance from an experienced

teacher to truly gain an interest and knowledge in this subject. The images

below were created by the Rowan students in making snow maps that be replicated by

pre-college students in order to gain and practice their knowledge on remote sensing.

Even though vegetation and water were taken out in the resulting snow map

(Figure 8), some cloud coverage is still visible and may be removed with further image

processing refinement. This is because clouds can sometimes reflect a wavelength of

color similar to snow.

Figure 8. Resulting snow map

derived from Bands 4 and 6.

Figure 9. Resulting snow map of the Novatek Glacier

in Alaska derived from bands 3 and 6 of the OLI

Multispec was also used to generate similar snow

maps. The difference is that Multispec

can import low level data and allow the

student to selectively assign band numbers

to the red, green, and blue channels. ImageJ,

on the other hand, splits a composite RGB

image into separate red, green, blue channels.

Multispec also allows the user to type in

the NDSI equation and completes the image

processing in minimal steps. This saved time from

subtracting, adding, and dividing multiple images

individually as in ImageJ. Though Multispec was a

little more difficult to learn, it had more functions

that helped make snow maps easier.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 13


The career opportunities for the Geospatial Intelligence workforce promises to be robust. The

demand for environmental intelligence continues to increase and plays a significant role in our

future national economy and security. The creation of a pipeline is essential for attracting future

students, but to ensure success in producing graduates. Students engaged in authentic problem

solving are often motivated to acquire more knowledge independent of the requirements, and feel

better prepared to enter the workforce. These pedagogical approaches to learning are supported

by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and

Mathematics (STEM) education.

The authors all believe that all students should be exposed to this type of knowledge prior to

college. The American Meteorological Society’s Earth System STEM Policy Statements (2014)

supports this as well. Through developing collaborative partnerships between the precollege

community and institutions of higher learning can engage in authentic science and STEM activities

while gaining 21 st century skill sets.


Budik, L., WashingtonExec, October 14, 2014. Dynamic Earth: GEO Imperatives and Frontiers 2015-2020,

pg.21 and 24, NSF, 2014.

Earth System Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Policy Statement, 2014, www.ametsoc.org.

Eyes in the Sky, https://serc.carleton.edu/teachearth/site_guides/GIS.html

GeoTEDEd, http://www.geoted.org/

Hall, D.K, G.A. Riggs and V.V. Salomonson. (1995). Development of methods for mapping global snow cover

using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. Remote Sensing Environment,


Justice C., Vermote E., Townshend J., Defries R., Roy D., Hall D., Salomonson V., Privette J., Riggs G.,

Strahier A., Lucht W., Myneni R., Knyazikhin Y., Running S., Nemani R., Wan Z., Huete A., Leeuwen

W., Wolfe R., Giglio L., Muller J., Lewis P., and Barnsley M. (1998). The Moderate Resolution Imaging

Spectroradiometer (MODIS): Land Remote Sensing for Global Change Research. IEEE Transactions on

Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 36(4), 1228-1249

About the Authors

John D. Moore is the Executive Director of the American Council of STEM Educators. He is also the Director for Geoscience STEM Education

at the Palmyra Cove Nature Park and Environmental Discovery Center in NJ where he also is the Director for the NJ GLOBE Program. John

was an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow with the National Science, Directorate for Geosciences (2009-2011) and is a Past-

President of the Satellite Educators Association. He currently is the Chair the American Meteorological Society Board of Outreach and

Precollege Education. Previously, John was a Career and Technical Education program developer and instructor for Environmental Sciences,

Geoscience and Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Technologies and is the recipient of numerous local, state, and national recognition and

awards for his innovative use of satellite data and imagery in the classroom. John is the NJ State Coordinator for the Presidential Awards for

Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. John can be reached at mr.moore.john@gmail.com.

Peter Dorofy is the Eastern Region Director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association. Peter is currently the Director of

Environmental Education at the Palmyra Cove Nature Park and Environmental Discovery Center. Peter was formerly a teacher of Geospatial

Technologies, Earth Science, and Physics at the Burlington County Institute of Technology in New Jersey. He has a B.S. degree in Physics

and is currently working towards a M.S. in Environmental Engineering and a M.S. in Science Education. Peter is an American Meteorological

Society (AMS) DataStreme Education Resource Teacher as well as GLOBE certified. He also holds certifications in Geographical Information

Systems and Remote Sensing. Peter was recognized as the NJ Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and

was the 2012 American Meteorological Society K-12 Distinguished Educator of the Year, and is a NJ finalist for PAEMST. Peter can be reached

at pdorofy@bcbridges.org.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 14

The Earth Scientist

About the Authors (continued)

Kevin Varghese is a senior Civil Engineering Major from Rowan University. He is new to the world of Earth studies, but eager to learn.

Throughout the past four years, Kevin has focused his studies around the structural aspects of Civil Engineering: steel design, transportation

systems, etc. His early teenage years included interest in physics and mathematics, which directed him towards Civil Engineering. Outside

one semester of Intro to Mapping, topics in Earth studies was nowhere in his radar. While trying to branch out in his interests in projects

outside of structures, Kevin met Dr. Rouzbeh Nazari who introduced him to the field of remote sensing. Dr. Nazari partnered him with the

graduate student Peter Dorofy to mentor him in learning this field. Here is where he began his journey into remote sensing; temporarily

trading in AutoCad for EarthExplorer.

Dr. Rouzbeh Nazari is an assistant professor at Rowan University. His primary research interests lie in application of remote sensing in

urban, water and environment, resiliency and water reuse, air pollution impact on human health and asthma, developing physical and

numerical models for various hydrological and environmental systems, utilization of satellite data and geographic information system

(GIS) to study the impact of climate change on cities. Dr. Nazari is also working with the NOAA Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and

Technology Center (NOAA-CREST), Consortium on Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN), and New York State Resiliency Institute

for Storms & Emergencies (NYS RISE) teams of active researchers who focus on climate issues affecting the urban corridor encompassing

the U.S. Northeast. Dr. Nazari has published several book chapters, journal papers and has presented his work in national and international

conferences. Dr. Nazari is a member of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Meteorological Society (AMS), Institute of

Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and American Water Resources Association (AWRA).

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 15

“Rocking” Inquiry:

Using the Nature of Science

and Discovery to Enhance

Teaching Rocks

Christopher Roemmele and Steven Smith

Purdue University, Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and former National Science Education

Standards (NSES) have both emphasized the importance of inquiry-based instruction and

learning, as well as the Nature of Science. A unit on the investigation of rocks can lend

itself to these practices. In this lesson, students are expected to first negotiate and justify

what makes a rock a rock, and then create their own classification system by looking

for and identifying unique and unifying characteristics that would allow them to group

particular rocks together. Additionally, students can take a virtual tour of locations that

are made of or known for a particular rock type. Formative assessment using food as an

analog to rocks types can be used as a tool to ascertain student conceptual understanding.

The incorporation of inquiry and discovery learning leads to utilizing and enhancing

higher level cognitive and process skills that geologists practice, with the potential

outcome being a more meaningful and relevant activity for the students, with increased

self-efficacy in their ability to identify and describe rocks.

Inquiry and the Nature of Science are often overlooked when planning and teaching a unit about

rocks and the rock cycle. However, the National Science Education Standards (NSES) nearly 20

years ago, and the more recent Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have both articulated

the need to incorporate the practices and skills that scientists utilize daily, making for a more

enriching learning, and teaching, experience. Argumentation, making evidence-based claims,

and communicating hypotheses, connecting explanations to scientific knowledge, and justifying

explanations should all be a part of the science classroom, making it more student-centered

and student-friendly. Furthermore, learning content and doing inquiry are not mutually exclusive.

Inquiry should not only encourage the understanding of content material but enhance the

practice and reasoning skills associated with science (Windschitl, 2008).

Traditionally, students have utilized a pre-fabricated chart, with drawings or pictures to identify the

rocks by family and name. Although this may have some value depending on grade level and ability,

students can become more concerned with wanting to identify rocks correctly based on the chart

and pictures, which may preempt their ability to comprehend why there are distinctions among the

families, what the particular nuances of each rock and rock family are, and how one type of rock can

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 16

The Earth Scientist

become another over time. Or, conversely, teachers may expect students to memorize a list of rock

names, without much thought to how it formed and what makes it unique compared to other rocks

within its family, much less another family. This can not only take the enjoyment and motivation

from learning, but teaching as well.

Teaching a unit on rocks can be an advantageous time to work in aspects of the nature of

science. Natural scientists and natural philosophers (like fathers of geology Nicholas Steno, William

Smith, and James Hutton) did not have pictures and charts when they went out to the field. So, a

teacher might consider asking students to put themselves in the same boots as geologists, before

geology and geologists came to classify and name each rock family and rock type. This can be accomplished

by reading short, anecdotal stories of these fathers of geology (emphasizing how scientific

knowledge is constructed and the subjective nature of data, for example) and address student preconceptions

and misconceptions about how science, especially geology, is conducted and the context in

which it is done, as well as teach the content (Olson et al, 2005; Vanderlinden, 2007).

By using aspects of inquiry and discovery learning, students can formulate properties of rocks

themselves, thereby “taking possession” of its description. With more cognitive engagement and

critical thinking, rock classification and identification can become a more meaningful activity to

students. They spend more time enhancing higher order thinking skills and engaged in sciencing,

realizing that “doing geology” is not a cut and dry process. The proposed process also encompasses

components of a learning progression as defined by the National Research Council, especially as

students demonstrate progress in their understanding and skill development, through the activities

themselves (Corcoran, Mosher & Rogat, 2009).

A Virtual Tour

First, take the students on a virtual tour and show images of places with distinct rock types. For

example: Yosemite National Park (granite), Checkerboard Mesa of Zion National Park (cross bedded

sandstone) (see Figure 1), or the Washington Monument (marble) and Vietnam Memorial (gabbro).

Figure 1. The virtual tour of

rocks can include places like the

Yosemite National Park (granite)

the Checkboard Mesa in Zion

National Park (crossbeds of

sandstone) and the Palisades Sill

in New Jersey (basalt/diabase).

(photographs by authors; personal collection)

Instruction that is place- or regionally-based (using as local images and samples) may be more

effective, as a student develops meaning and attachment, and positive value, of geological

information (Semken & Freeman, 2008). This lesson was originally developed for use in New Jersey,

hence the Palisades Sill (diabase) (see Figure 1) and outcrops of Manhattan Schist in New York City

also are referenced. Depending on the state or region, a teacher can identify geologically significant

areas or structures where the bedrock or building material is of a particular type and highlight

them, as the NGSS also emphasizes features and processes that shape local geographic features

(NGSS, 2013, p. 80).

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 17

What Makes a Rock a Rock?

Even before students pick up and examine hand samples of rocks to identify what they are and

where they may have come from, it may be necessary

to have students determine what separates Examples of common items

a rock from something that is not a rock. This


Piece of wax

activity gets the students thinking scientifically



and utilizes collaborative learning, group work and

Ball of clay


developing a consensus.



Create a tray of about 12 various common materials,

and add about a half dozen small rocks to

it. Many classrooms have small hand samples of

granite, sandstone, scoria, pumice, and marble.

Common items that have been found to promote

good discussion are shown in Figure 2.


Vial of oil

Pumpkin seed (or

other large seed)

Steel ball bearing

Baggie of soil

Vial of water

Piece of porcelain tile

Antacid tablet

Baggie of sand

Plastic chip

Figure 2. Suggested items for

the ‘What Makes a Rock a Rock’


Examples of rocks



















Student groups are then directed to look in their

trays of common materials and to sort all the objects into two piles:

“rocks” and “not rocks” (see Figure 3).

They are also instructed to write down the list of the items that

they identified as “not rocks,” and next to the “not rock,” item, they

should write a short reason as to why they feel it is not a rock. For

the five or six rocks in the tray, they can just list them by general

description if they are unsure of the name.

Once the group reaches a consensus, they are to look at the collective

objects in their “rock” group and their “not rock” group. Based

on the physical characteristics of the objects in each pile, they are

then asked to identify the characteristics that define an object as a rock. This list can be written

directly into their notebooks or science journal. For some assistance at this point, remind students

that working in reverse may help here and that by looking at the “not rocks,” they could develop the

characteristics of a rock based on those items. They should also observe each rock and note how

the rocks are the same or different, and if they are appear to be composed of one thing, or of many


To this point, students are fairly confident on most of the items that get placed in the “not rocks”

column are truly not rocks. Experience with this phase of the unit has shown that the items that

often do not reach consensus are the soil and the sand. Many students have often said that they

both were rocks that were broken down or in smaller

pieces. From here though, the class and teacher together can

construct the definition of what it means to be a rock: that

it is natural, solid, inorganic, made of one or more minerals,

and to eliminate the soil and sand, that it is cohesive or

coherent. Including a piece of sandstone with the rocks so

that everyone can see there is a distinct difference between

loose sand and cemented sandstone can be very beneficial

when discussing the different between these.

Figure 3. Students sorting rocks

from the “not rocks”.

Figure 4. Students negotiating

rock groups

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 18

The Earth Scientist

Common Core-based standards addressed:



Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out

experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks


Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying

out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical

tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words

in a text with a version of that information expressed visually

(e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text

support the author’s claim or a recommendation for solving a

scientific or technical problem.

Figure 5. Common core-based

standards addressed

Armed with their recent definition of a rock, groups are provided with a container that has a

number of rocks and are asked to sort the rocks any way they would like and record their method of

classification (see Figure 4).

Groups take turns explaining their method of classification, usually

listing the characteristics on a either the classroom Smartboard or

whiteboard. Then groups are required to sort the rocks in another

manner but they are limited to three groups. After students record

their method, they exchange written instructions with another

group and sort their rocks using the other group’s method, which

is part of the Common Core English Language Arts standards

(Common Core, 2012) (see Figure 5).

This provides students opportunities to pose questions to the other

group(s) about the various methods of classification proposed. We

then discuss as a class the importance of having a universal method

of classification. After brief lesson on igneous, sedimentary, and

metamorphic rocks, including characteristics and how they form,

the class is ready for the primary investigation.

Owning the Classification

Each group is given a tray of rocks pre-arranged with hand

samples of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, in which rocks are each identified with

a letter, but not by name. After observing the igneous rocks, student groups discuss their observations

and note any unique characteristics that identify a rock as an igneous rock, with the goal

being to answer, “All/most igneous rocks have/are _________,” or “All/most rocks that have/are

_______________ will be igneous rocks.” In this way, students can develop some defining characteristics

of igneous rocks. Previous student examples include: “Some igneous rocks have holes or air

pockets in them,” and, “Most igneous rocks have connected (interlocking) mineral crystals.” This

process is then repeated for the sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. This process allows students

to compare and contrast rocks and thereby focusing their attention on identifying features and

commonalities that exist within one family of rocks. To see if any group developed

a characteristic that may be helpful to the remainder of the class, observations are

shared group to group. This allows students to reflect and think critically, in order

to determine whether these depictions may be more accurate or useful to them.

Anecdotal experience has shown that a student-based classification and description

such as this is remembered more clearly, and a result, students are more successful in

lab practicals since they rely on self-descriptions and observations to make an identification.

Students have often asked why or how geologists developed the current rock

classification. The fact that the names were not “discovered” suddenly, and that the

scheme changed over time, is an important teachable aspect of the nature of science.

Figure 6. Students observing and analyzing rocks.

The students observe the rocks once again in order to identify the names of individual

rocks, comparing and contrasting the coarse and fine grained igneous rocks

(see Figure 6) or testing the sedimentary rocks with dilute hydrochloric acid to

determine if the sedimentary rock is a limestone. Having been previously exposed to

terms like felsic and mafic, clastic and chemical, foliated and non-foliated, students

utilize a worksheet to give each rock its correct name (see sample of the worksheet in


© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 19

Suggested Igneous rocks


Suggested Sedimentary rock


Suggested Metamorphic rocks


Figure 7. Suggested food


Jolly Ranchers Granola bar KitKat

Hard Peppermints Rice Krispie treats Butterfingers

Root beer barrels Sweetarts Wafer Crème cookie

Students should also be informally assessed regularly by showing them at least three different

rocks they have not seen before, and checking to see if they can at least identify which family they

belong to. Students can use their self-made reference sheet and chart to assist them in this daily

practice. Those who want to go a step further can identify the name of each rock. Additionally,

food analogs can be used to represent members of the three rock families. Students classify the

food based on similarities. This can allow the teacher to determine whether or not students have

conceptualized the uniqueness and differences amongst the three families. Suggested items to

use for this are listed in Figure 7.

I am a Rock

Rather than having students memorize facts about rocks, allowing them to discover the uniqueness

of each rock type promotes a higher level of understanding. Through inquiry and discovery

learning, students will come to understand that learning science, especially geology, is more

than the “isolated facts” and “useless details” that some tend to associate with science, and

unfortunately, geology. Rocks, the development of the classification system, the naming of such

rocks, and where they are found, how and why they are formed: those concepts are what can

make geology very real and allow it to come alive to students. It is good to have the students

identify items in the classroom, school building, or home, which are made of rocks, so that they

can continue to self-construct the importance and significance of rocks to society, but more

importantly, to their own lives. This motivation, can perhaps improve student learning, erase

conceptual misunderstandings and fears, and increase the value that students place toward their

science learning and knowledge. If this leads to an improvement to scientific literacy in this

country, then indeed, it is worth the time and effort.


Common core state standards for English language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and

technical subjects. Common Core Standards Initiative, 2012.

Corcoran, T., Mosher, F. A., & Rogat, A. (2009). Learning Progressions in Science: An Evidence-Based

Approach to Reform. CPRE Research Report# RR-63. Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Gal, I., & Ginsburg, L. (1994). The role of beliefs and attitudes in learning statistics: Towards an assessment

framework. Journal of Statistics Education,2(2), 1-15.

National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, D.C., National

Academy Press.

NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The

National Academies Press.

Olson, J. K., Clough, M. P., Bruxvoort, C. N., & Vanderlinden, D. W. (2005, July). Improving Students’ nature

of science understanding through historical short stories in an introductory geology course. In Eighth

Iinternational History, Philosophy, Sociology & Science Teaching conference (IHPST), Leeds, UK.

Semken, S., & Freeman, C. B. (2008). Sense of place in the practice and assessment of place-based science

teaching. Science Education, 92(6), 1042-1057.

Vanderlinden, D. W. (2007). Teaching the content and context of science: The effect of using historical

narratives to teach the nature of science and science content in an undergraduate introductory geology

course. (Doctoral dissertation, Iowa State University).

About the Authors

Christopher Roemmele is

currently working toward his

PhD in geoscience education

in the Earth, Atmospheric, and

Planetary Sciences Department

at Purdue University, focusing

on student affect and

conceptual understanding

in introductory geology.

Christopher taught high school

earth science for 15 years in

his home state of New Jersey,

and was an adjunct instructor

in geoscience and science

methods at the post-secondary

level. He actively participates in

outreach at Purdue. He can be

reached at croemmel@purdue.


Steven Smith is the K-12

outreach coordinator for

the Department of Earth,

Atmospheric, and Planetary

Sciences at Purdue University.

A former elementary

teacher, Steven has 15

years of outreach service at

Purdue, attending academic

conferences, participating in

school partnerships, making

regular visits to K-12 teachers

and classrooms across Indiana

and providing professional

development workshops

and scientific equipment to

classrooms throughout central

Indiana. Steven can be reached

at mrsmith@purdue.edu.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 20

The Earth Scientist

Appendix Table of Worksheet

Based on the characteristics of each rock, identify the rock. Write in the letter of the rock under the appropriate

place on the three charts.



Felsic----------------------Intermediate----------------------- Mafic



Light------------------- white & black, gray------------- Dark/black

Coarse-grained (crystals you can see)

(Intrusive/ Plutonic)

Fine-grained (crystals you can’t see)

(Extrusive/ Volcanic)







Porous (gas holes)

(Extrusive/ Volcanic)




(you have multiple sandstones and limestones)


made of pieces of other rocks



Shale Sandstone Conglomerate

mud/clay sand pebbles & sand-mud


precipitated, evaporated or made of

formerly living organisms



dark, lightweight



calcite (fizzes in acid)






Fine------------------------------ Intermediate---------------------------Coarse

(Microscopic)----------------------------------------------------------- (Visible)

Slate Schist Gneiss

thin layers, brittle flaky looking dark & light bands


(no layers, massive/crystalline)



(fizzes in acid)



size grains

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 21

Integrating Local Environmental

Research into an Inquiry-Based Unit

on Biogeochemical Principles in a

High School Science Classroom

Nicholas D. Ward, Ph.D.*, School of Oceanography, University of Washington and

Rachel J. Petrick-Finley, Ph.D., Garfield High School Science Foundation

*Corresponding author


Presented here is an inquiry-based unit on biogeochemical principles taught to tenth grade

Ecology students that was designed and implemented by a teacher-graduate student partnership

who were supported by the National Science Foundation GK-12 program. Course

content was based on results from local environmental research efforts, with students

playing the role of scientists. The unit was framed as a crime scene investigation, in which

students were tasked with determining the main culprits behind a widespread fish kill

event in a local watershed, Hood Canal, Washington, a sub-basin of the Puget Sound

estuary. Students were given sequential pieces of evidence (e.g. scientific plots, lab exercises,

and simulations) to learn fundamental biogeochemical principles and were allowed to

move on to the next piece of evidence after showing an understanding of the underlying

concept, and how it fit in with the mystery as a whole. The graduate student was present

two days per week and led self-designed warm-up exercises, lessons, and lab activities,

while the teacher remained responsible for student discipline. This disciplinary dynamic

made students generally feel comfortable working with the graduate student, strengthening

the student-mentor relationship. The teaching pair collaborated on the unit during

a one-hour planning period twice weekly and corresponded remotely. This framework

was successful in engaging local researchers with the K-12 STEM community, enhancing

opportunities available for high school students, and providing diverse training for future

educators. Although the NSF GK-12 program has been archived, we encourage educators

and researchers to work towards the goal of creating sustainable STEM networks by leveraging

state STEM programs and soliciting new partnerships.


Collaboration between university researchers and high school educators enables an invaluable

exchange of teaching philosophies and educational tools. The unit on biogeochemical principles

described here was developed through the partnership of a high school science teacher and an

oceanography graduate student supported by the National Science Foundation GK-12 program.

The benefits of this type of partnership include providing students with enhanced educational

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 22

The Earth Scientist

experiences and positive student-mentor relationships, training STEM graduate students in effective

teaching strategies, and providing teachers with a firsthand resource for present day scientific

information and novel educational materials. Many high school students have had little exposure

to science beyond the classroom. Frequent interactions with “real-life” scientists in formal and

informal educational settings can help make complex scientific information more approachable for

students and is also likely an effective strategy for promoting science as a career and awareness of

environmental issues.

In an effort to maximize student interest and engagement we based the unit largely on current

local research that the graduate student was involved with. In particular, the unit was framed as a

crime scene investigation of a recent fish kill event in Hood Canal, Washington, in which students

were given additional pieces of evidence to solve the mystery as they satisfied checkpoints in their

understanding of key concepts. The evidence pieces included scientific plots, maps, datasets,

and laboratory exercises that students worked through in groups and individually. The graduate

student’s personal interest in the subject matter when teaching lessons was apparent to students,

who responded positively with high levels of engagement and inquiry.

The main role of the instructors during these activities was to circulate the classroom, provide

feedback, and guide students to an understanding of the fundamental concepts that each piece

of evidence revealed. The graduate student spent two full days in the classroom per week, during

which group and lab activities were generally scheduled to maximize student-instructor interactions.

The teacher-graduate student pair collaborated on site during a daily planning period and

also remotely via email and telephone. The graduate student spent time outside of the classroom

developing the materials for this unit as an assignment for a teaching course supported by the NSF

GK-12 program and the University of Washington Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence


A clear benefit of this investigation-style unit is that students were able to learn the material at

their individual pace. Inquiry-based science activities generally have positive effects on acquisition

of scientific knowledge, development of skills, and motivation (Purser and Renner, 1983; Ertepinar

and Geban, 1996; Mao and Chang, 1998). Further, this structure allowed for a relatively streamlined

integration of differentiated materials such as simplified background readings or visual learning

aids for struggling students or more detailed news articles and primary literature for more advanced

students. Providing students with personalized course materials has been shown to enhance positive

student engagement (Deci and Ryan, 1985).

The dissemination of educational materials developed through such a partnership is critical for

maximizing the societal impact of collaborative efforts and the growth of sustainable STEM

networks at the local, state, and national levels. Materials used for this unit and other lessons developed

through this partnership (e.g. Ward et al., 2013) have been made publically available online

(see Supplemental Materials). Although, the NSF GK-12 program has been archived, we encourage

educators and researchers to pursue new partnerships, leveraging local and state-level STEM

outreach programs with the goal of increasing national exposure of the societal benefits of such

synergistic activities.

Class Demographics

This unit was included in the curriculum for six Ecology classes at an urban 9-12 high school in the

Seattle, WA area. Students enrolled in this Ecology course were typically in their second year and

had taken an introductory Biology course. Class size ranged from fifteen to thirty students, with an

even gender distribution and diverse population.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 23

The Unit

This unit was given over a three-week period, with an additional week of review and synthesis work.

Class periods typically began with a warm up question linking the concepts currently being

explored to the overall mystery and were followed by a brief lesson on key concepts or areas of

confusion. The majority of class time was spent working through the evidence in groups or individually

working on projects. We present this unit in the 5E format—engage, explore, explain,

elaborate, evaluation (Bybee et al, 1997). The online files (see Sidebar) are organized and labeled

as cited in the text (e.g. Worksheet 1a).

Worksheets, assignments,

lessons, reading materials,

and lab activities used for this

unit are available online at



The unit began by viewing a video of diver observations in Hood Canal during the early stages

of a hypoxic event (WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, 2006). The divers noted irregular fish behavior,

including slow movement, shortness of breath, irregularly timed spawning, and migration of deepwater

fish to the surface. Students were asked to ponder why the fish were behaving strangely and

what might be causing the odd behavior. The remainder of the video shows groups of dead and

dying fish near the surface. Most students reacted strongly and seemed genuinely concerned about

what was happening to the poor fish and surprised to hear it was happening “in their backyard”.

When asked why the fish were dying, many students stuck with their hypothesis that the fish were

poisoned by some toxin in the water. Some students made the connection between the behavior

patterns and hypothesized that the fish had “run out of air.” At this point students were given readings

(Reading 1a), an assignment (Worksheet 1a), and a lesson (Lesson 1a) concerning the natural

history of Hood Canal to familiarize themselves with the region.

Explore and Explain

Students used an “evidence

organizer” (Worksheet 1b)

to record the significance

of each of the following

pieces of evidence to unraveling

the mystery. Students

summarized what the

evidence “showed”; what it

“means for the ecosystem”;

and “how the evidence

helps us understand the

fish kill.” The unit was

guided by a progression of

five driving questions:

Exhibit 1: Why did the fish

die? The class period began

with a discussion of why

sea-life needs oxygen (O 2 )

and how it gets O 2 from

the water. This transitioned into a lesson on what it means for gas to be dissolved in water, and how

much O 2 different species of sea-life needs (Lesson 1b). Students were given a map of Hood Canal

showing dissolved O 2 concentrations in the surface waters during the August 2006 hypoxic event

(Figure 2; from Newton et al., 2007) and a handout asking them to explain what they observed and

its relevance to the overall mystery (Worksheet 1). Students quickly realized that O 2 levels in Hood

Figure 1. Overview of unit

progression with the driving

questions highlighted

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 24

The Earth Scientist

Figure 2. Map of dissolved

oxygen concentrations in Hood

Canal surface waters during the

August 2006 fish kill event (from

Newton et al., 2007).

The SimBio (2013) program was purchased

with NSF GK-12 support, but the software

may be prohibitively expensive for use

in most classrooms ($599 for classroom

copy and $999 for school copy). Alternate

visualizations that would serve a similar

purpose are available online for free.

For example, Banas (2011) provides an

interactive model showing the response of

phytoplankton and zooplankton populations

to nutrient levels, which is available at:

http://staff.washington.edu/banasn/ models/

NPZvisualizer/index.html. The website

www.gulfhypoxia.net also contains useful

materials on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico,

including an animation describing the role

of photosynthesis and respiration in driving

hypoxia (Chauvin, 2015). Similar information

can also be found in Reading 3b.

Canal were well below the threshold for fish survival. Now

that the students deduced that the fish died due to a lack

of O 2 , rather than from some toxin, they went on to learn

about the sequence of processes that create hypoxic conditions

in Hood Canal. This portion of the unit included a

quiz on the theme of dissolved gasses (Assessment 1).

Exhibit 2: How/why do O 2 levels vary in Hood Canal? Students

were first given a brief lesson on the basic concepts of

salinity and water circulation in estuaries (Lessons 2a and

2b). Students were then given plots of a series of long-term

environmental monitoring data (Devol et al., 2011; Oceanic

Remote Chemical Analyzer, 2013). Students examined the

change in O 2 levels, salinity, and temperature with depth

before, during, and after the fish kill (Figure 2; from Devol

et al., 2011). Prior to the fish kill, depth profiles showed a

classic “stratified” water column, with salty/cold/low-O 2

waters at depth and fresh/warm/high-O 2 water at the

surface. During the fish kill, the water column became

“well-mixed,” with low O 2 levels and consistent salinity/

temperature throughout the entire water column. After the

fish kill, the water column returned to its typical stratified

conditions (see Evidence 2a for additional plots). Students

also examined depth profiles of rockfish populations,

which revealed a migration of fish towards the surface to

escape low O 2 levels at depth (Evidence 2b; HDCOP, 2013).

Students were given worksheet 2 to guide their examination

of the depth profiles and understanding of key concepts.

Exhibit 3: Why is O 2 depleted in deep waters during “stratified” conditions? To understand the

underlying mechanism leading to depleted O 2 levels at depth, students used the SimBio Nutrient

Pollution simulation based on a lab exercise provided with the software (SimBio, 2013). This

simulation models the response of plankton/fish populations and O 2 levels to

variable nutrient inputs. Students were tasked with visualizing and quantifying

the processes by which O 2 is depleted from bottom waters as a result of enhanced

nutrient input. The basic principle is that input of nutrients to surface waters

promotes primary production of algal/phytoplanktonic biomass, which is eaten

by O 2 -consuming zooplankton and bacteria as it sinks through the water column.

Although primary production elevates O 2 levels in surface waters, the respiration

of dead algal biomass by microbes depletes O 2 levels in stratified bottom waters.

Students used Worksheet 3 to connect concepts learned during the lab exercise to

the overall mystery.

Through guided questioning (Worksheet 3), and formal lessons (Lesson 3a),

students gained a key understanding of the reversible relationship between photosynthesis

and respiration and the nutrient cofactors required for these processes. A

more advanced lesson on biogeochemical cycling can also be included here and/or

later in the unit (Lesson 3b). Once students understood the relationship between

photosynthesis and respiration, they revisited the previous depth profiles, now

focusing on chlorophyll a concentrations (Evidence 2a), which revealed high levels

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 25

of algae growth prior to the fish kill. To understand the link between chlorophyll a levels and algal

population size, students were taught the concept of using “biomarkers.” A biomarker refers to a

measureable indicator of a biologic state, condition, or process. For example, the concentration

of chlorophyll a in water is commonly used to estimate the abundance of

phytoplankton biomass based on well-understood relationships. Students

were given a reading about algal blooms in Lake Erie as an additional

example (Reading 3a; Main, 2013).

Exhibit 4: How does O 2 -poor water move to the surface? Students began by

performing a food color salinity lab exercise to understand the relationship

between salinity and water density (Lab 1). They observed that, when

unperturbed, high salinity water generally sits on the bottom, creating

a layered, or stratified, water column. When disturbed, the waters mix

together, creating a uniform distribution of salinity. It was emphasized

that other dissolved chemical constituents (such as O 2 and nutrients) also

move with the water parcels similarly. Students had previous exposure to

these concepts from Lesson 2a. Students were debriefed after the lab exercise

and shown an animation explaining the process of upwelling (Loomis,

2015). In brief, wind moves surface waters causing deep water to move

vertically. When upwelling occurs, surface waters generally become saltier

than normal in a stratified estuary. Students were given a map showing

the changes in surface salinity (a proxy for upwelling) during the fish kill,

revealing high upwelling rates where fish deaths were most prominent

(Figure 3; Evidence 4). Students completed Worksheet 4 to solidify their

understanding of these physical processes and were given a brief lesson on

currents and net circulation in Puget Sound based on model visualizations

(Lesson 4).

Exhibit 5: What processes and chemical factors drive algae blooms? The final

part of the unit focused on nutrient cycling dynamics. Students were given

Reading 4 and revisited the SimBio simulation and

Lesson 3b, focusing on the basics of nitrogen (N) and

phosphorus (P) cycling. It was emphasized that either

N or P are often the “limiting factors” for primary

production to occur in rivers and estuaries. In order to

determine whether N or P was limiting in Hood Canal

students examined a plot of N and P levels (Evidence 5a)

with guidance from Worksheet 5a. In this case, real data

was not available, so hypothetical data was created that

showed a large spike in both N and P occurred prior to

the fish kill, followed by a rapid drawdown of both nutrients.

However, because N levels dropped to zero, whereas

some P remained, students were able to determine that

N was the limiting nutrient. Nutrient levels increased

again on day 5 as a result of the “remineralization” (e.g.

breakdown) of algal biomass by bacteria. Now that students had a key suspect (nitrogen) for their

investigation, the next step was to determine where the large spike in N came from prior to the fish

kill. The students performed a lab activity that walked them through the sources and processes that

cycle N in the environment (Lab 2) followed by debriefing. They were also given homework assignments

to solidify their understanding of nutrient cycling (Worksheets 5b-5c). Although in reality

Figure 3. Map of the change in salinity in Hood Canal

surface waters during the August 2006 fish kill event.

Southern winds transported the relatively fresh surface

waters out of Hood Canal, which was replaced by saline

(and O2-depleted) deep waters

Figure 4. Hypothetical

concentrations of nitrogen and

phosphorous in Hood Canal

before, during, and after the fish

kill event. This plot is not based

on real data and was created for

educational purposes only.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 26

The Earth Scientist

both marine and terrestrial nutrient sources are important to Hood Canal, we focused the rest of

the unit on land-derived sources to tie into previous lessons examining the connection between

humans and watersheds (e.g. Lesson 5). Students were given Worksheet 5f and a plot showing spikes

in N concentrations in the rivers that drain into Hood Canal during periods of high rainfall and

river runoff (Evidence 5b) to demonstrate that terrestrial nutrient inputs to Hood Canal are highest

during storms. Students were also given the option to read and summarize the primary literature

where the plot is from for extra credit (Ward

et al., 2012).

Figure 5. Map of the distribution

of (A) deciduous forest (roughly

50% of which is composed of

nitrogen-fixing alder trees) and

(B) human populations.

The final step was to determine what landderived

sources contributed to nitrogen

loading by examining land use maps (Figure

5; Evidence 5c and 5d). Students were asked

to note regions with the most urban influence

and natural deciduous and coniferous

forests (Worksheet 6). Evidence 5d showed

that red alder trees constituted the majority

of the deciduous forest landcover, and had

the highest density in the SE and SW corners

of the basin. Likewise, human population

density was highest in the SE corner, where the lowest O 2 levels were observed. Alder trees are

unique in that they have symbiotic bacteria allowing them to fix N 2 gas from the atmosphere. This

phenomenon was discussed during Lab 2 and students were also given an optional reading about

alder trees (Reading 5). Students were taught that nitrogen fixation is an evolutionary advantage

that allows alder trees to replace dead or removed old growth forest when clearing occurs, and is a

large input of N to soils. Students were also given various levels of readings about anthropogenic N

sources such as septic tanks and fertilizers (e.g. Readings 6-8).

Students hypothesized that both human and alder-derived nitrogen from the southernmost region

was the main culprit for depleted O 2 levels in Hood Canal. To close the case, students were given

stable isotopic data that quantified the N contributions from alder trees, coniferous forests, and

anthropogenic inputs (similar to how DNA evidence always comes in to save the day on television),

which revealed that 25% of the terrestrial nitrogen flux into Hood Canal was from old growth

conifer forests, 50% was from deciduous/alder forests, and 25% was from anthropogenic sources

(Evidence 5e; adapted from Steinberg et al., 2010). By the end of the unit students were expected

to understand the physical, chemical, and biological mechanisms that can lead to hypoxic conditions

in an estuary. In brief, the waters of Hood Canal circulate very slowly due to the shallow sill

at its entrance, resulting in a stratified water column (salty on the bottom, fresh on the top). Inputs

of nutrients from the land and sea promote algal production in the surface; O 2 levels are depleted

at depth as algal biomass sinks and is consumed by grazers and microbes. Storm events play two

roles in hypoxia: rainfall causes increased nutrient runoff from land/rivers (Ward et al., 2012) and

strong winds drive upwelling of deep, O 2 -depleted waters to the surface (Devol et al., 2011). The

culmination of these events happens naturally, but can be strengthened by human influences such

as nutrient loading (Newton et al., 2007). Students solidified understanding of these concepts using

flashcards (Reading 9) and working in groups of 3-4 on large whiteboards to organize and summarize

the evidence pieces.

Elaborate and Evaluation

Student understanding was evaluated throughout the unit based on daily updates to the evidence

organizer, lab and homework assignments, and quizzes. Three final assessments were given at the

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 27

end of the unit including a multiple choice exam (Assessment 2), an open

note test tasking students to write an official crime scene report (Table 1;

Assessment 3), and a Public Service Announcement (PSA) project

(Assessment 4). The final project tasked students with making a PSA

about the fish kill in the form of a poster, video, comic book, or presentation

that addressed how hypoxia can occur naturally, how humans

influence this cycle, and at least three recommendations for helping

lessen the impact of humans on Hood Canal (Table 2). Most students

chose to do posters or comic books, but some students made very

creative videos using online animation tools such as http://xtranormal.

com/. Examples of student work on the final project are available online

(Supplementary Materials).


The teacher-graduate student tandem proved to be an effective way to

develop this type of curricular material and execute the evidence-based

unit framework. The role of the instructors during many of the activities

was to circulate through the classroom to gauge student understanding,

ask guiding questions, and determine which groups were ready to move

on to the next step. This role was difficult for a teacher to achieve on

his/her own because of classroom size, thus formal lessons and assessments

were generally scheduled for days when the graduate student was

not present. The same unit was instructed by a student teacher-teacher

tandem in the same school/course with similar success. However, the

presence of the graduate student who was directly involved in the

research appeared to raise student engagement by helping students form

a personal connection with the course material.

This unit received fantastic feedback from the students. On an anonymous

survey, students noted that they thought this unit was more

difficult than their average science lesson, but that they had more fun

and were more interested. Most responded that they would not have

been as interested in studying the topic if it were based on a non-local

fish kill. However, interestingly, less than 75% of the students had even

known where or what Hood Canal was prior to this unit. Only two

students responded that they knew about the hypoxia issue prior to

the unit. This and other units based on the Puget Sound ecosystem throughout the year markedly

enhanced both student awareness of local environmental issues and student engagement in class

activities. Interactions with the graduate student exposed students to the numerous career paths in

science and helped students recognize that science is a dynamic and evolving entity, not just facts in

a book. As our global community becomes increasingly interconnected, popular culture has trended

towards an emphasis on the importance of local communities. Creating a local connection with

classroom content is a powerful tool for engaging a student’s interest and promoting deep learning.


Funding and support for this work was provided by the National Science foundation GK-12

program and the University of Washington Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence.

Table 1. Final assessment: Official Crime

Scene Report

1. Describe the crime in as much detail as possible. This

should only be observations, not ideas about what

caused the initial incident.

2. Where did the crime take place? What is significant about

the location in terms of the crime?

3. Describe the timeline of events leading up to the crime?

This should only be a timeline and not have details

into HOW it happened.

4. Describe 5 key pieces of evidence that helped you

formulate your conclusion. If helpful, use the sentence

starter to construct your answer.

5. What is your conclusion as to the cause of death? This

needs to be based on the appropriate evidence with an

explanation on the correct sequence of events.

Table 2. Recommendations to include in the

final Public Service Announcement project

The PSA makes at least 3 of the following recommendations

for how to reduce human impacts:

1. People can limit their use of fertilizers in their home


2. People can scoop and properly dispose of their pet

waste in compost bins.

3. People can ensure that their septic systems work

efficiently and don’t leak.

4. The County government can build a sewer/waste water

treatment system to reduce Nitrogen seapage from

septic tanks.

5. The County government can limit the clearing of

old growth conifer forests (N 2 -fixing red alder trees

dominate cleared land)

6. The County government can replant coniferous trees

where red alders have taken over

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Page 28

The Earth Scientist

About the


Rachel Petrik-Finley

received her Ph.D. in

Environmental Science

in 2005 from University

of Rhode Island. She

began teaching at Garfield

High School in 2011 and

currently teaches Biology

and AP Environmental


Dr. Nicholas Ward

completed his Ph.D. in

Chemical Oceanography

at the University of

Washington in 2014.

During this time he

worked with Dr. Finley at

Garfield High School as

part of the NSF GK-12

Fellowship Program.

Dr. Ward is currently a

postdoctoral associate at

the University of Florida,

Department of Geologic

Sciences, where he is

continuing to pursue

research concerning the

connectivity of carbon

cycling processes across

terrestrial, aquatic, and

marine biospheres.

Website: http://www.



Supplementary Materials

The Assessments, Evidence, Labs, Lessons, Readings, and Worksheets described in this article are

available at the following link or by emailing the corresponding author: http://bit.ly/1IaIqj6

Additional materials are available at: http://www.hoodcanal.washington.edu/


Banas, N. 2011. Visualizing nutrient-phytoplankton-zooplankton dynamics. http://staff.washington.edu/

banasn/ models/NPZvisualizer/index.html. Accessed 29 November 2012.

Bybee, R.W. 1997. Achieving scientific literacy: From purposes to practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Chauvin, C. 2015. Flash animation describing the nutrient process that leads to hypoxia in the northern waters

of the Gulf of Mexico. http://www.gulfhypoxia.net/ overview/hypoxia_flash.asp. Accessed 28 January


Deci, E. and Ryan, R. 1985. Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum


Devol, A., Ruef, W., Newton, J., Smith, C. 2011. High-frequency marine observations in Hood Canal. Hood

Canal Dissolved Oxygen Program Integrated Assessment & Modeling Study Report. Chapter 3.3.

Ertepinar, H. and Geban, O. 1996. Effect of instruction supplied with the investigative-oriented laboratory

approach on achievement in a science course. Educational Research, 38, 333–344.

Handelsman J, Ebert-May D, Beichner R, et al. 2004. Education. Scientific teaching. Science 2004;304:521–522.

Hood Canal Dissolved Oxygen Program. 2013. http://www.hoodcanal.washington.edu/. Accessed 28 January,


Loomis, J. 2015. Observe how upwelling occurs. http://www.classzone.com/books/ earth_science/terc/content/

visualizations/es2405/es2405page01.cfm. Accessed 29 January 2015.

Main, D. 2013. Lake Erie algae bloom expected to continue, threatening ecosystem, people. http://www.

livescience.com/topics/our-amazing-planet/. Posted 1 April 2013.

Mao, S., L. and Chang, C., Y. 1998. The effects of an inquiry-based instructional method on earth science

students’ achievement. Proc. Natl. Sci. Counc. ROC(D)Vol. 8, No. 3, 1998. pp. 93-101

Newton, J., Bassin, C., Devol, A., Kawase, M., Ruef, W., Warner, M., Hannafious, D. & Rose, R. (2007). Hypoxia

in Hood Canal: An overview of status and contributing factors. March 2007 Georgia Basin Puget Sound

Research Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Oceanic Remote Chemical Analyzer. 2013. http://orca.ocean.washington.edu/. Accessed 28 January, 2015.

Purser, R. K., and Renner, J.W. (1983). Results of two tenth grade biology teaching procedures. Science

Education, 67(1), 85–98.

SimBio. 2013. Nutrient Pollution Simulation. http://simbio.com/content/nutrient-pollution

Steinberg P.D., Brett M.T., Bechtold J.S., Richey J.E., McGeoch L.E., Osborne S.N. 2010. The influence of

watershed charac- teristics on nitrogen export to Hood Canal, Washington, USA. Biogeochemistry.


Ward, N.D., Richey, J.E., Keil, R.G. 2012. Temporal variation in river nutrient and dissolved lignin phenol

concentrations and the impact of storm events on nutrient loading to Hood Canal, WA, USA.

Biogeochemistry. doi:10.1007/s10533-012-9700-9

Ward, N.D.; Finley, R.J.; Keil, R.G.; Clay, T.G. (2013). Benefits and limitations of iPads in the high school science

classroom and a trophic cascade lesson plan. Journal of Geoscience Education. Vol. 61, 4, pp. 378-384

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. 2006. Underwater video of low dissolved oxygen event in Hood

Canal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1iv37Yn8bg. Accesses 28 January 2015.

© 2015 National Earth Science Teachers Association. All Rights Reserved.

Volume XXXI, Issue 2

Page 29

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Just prior to entering Buckskin Gulch, the large scale trough cross strata of the original sand dunes can be easily seen; formed by northwesterly winds in the Early

Triassic. The Navajo Sandstone is what is known as an erg, a large dunal sea, and received at least some of its sediments from the Appalachian Mountains. Ergs

are also found on other planets including Venus and Mars, as well as Saturn’s moon Titan.

Photo Credit: David Thesenga

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