The Winter 2015 issue of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal presents five project reports that examine a rich diversity of approaches to embedding science education within a civic context. Three of the articles describe the innovative use of technologies to enhance student engagement and learning.
David Green (University of Miami) and Jennifer Sparrow (Pennsylvania State University) explain how they utilized emerging technologies in a marine science course for non-majors, which was organized around the theme of environmental sustainability. The instructors employed a “flipped classroom” approach, along with integration of Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping software, Twitter, podcasting, and several other Web 2.0 tools. These approaches provide students with an opportunity to develop their collaborative and communication skills in the context of real-world learning.
Joseph Liddicoat (City College of New York) and Peter Bower (Barnard College) contribute an account of how they adapted the successful Brownfield Action simulation as an online course for non-traditional students. This case study examines the educational creativity that is required to convert classroom-based experiences to a set of effective online activities.
Robert M. Sanford andJoseph K. Staples (both at the University of Southern Maine) describe a self-guided, experiential field course based on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which extends from upper New York State to Northern Maine. During at least 10 days on the canoe trail, students participate in a Google+ community of paddlers and complete reflective online postings. This course shows how “distance education” does not need to employ traditional pedagogies; instead, it can provide a different type of educational experience.
Charles Greenberg (Murrysville County Library) and his collaborators present a project in which they use a community library as a local hub for the integration of K-8 STEM education into a summer reading program with complementary hands-on activities. They developed and implemented training workshops for librarians, administrators, and volunteers based on national standards in mathematics, science, and English language arts. By using children’s literature as used as an entry point for exploring specific math and science concepts, this project demonstrates how literacy and math/science education can be mutually complementary and reinforcing.
Farah Movahedzadeh (Harold Washington College) and her co-authors offer a course that uses the Chicago River as a site of civic engagement. Using the principles of project-based learning, students collect water samples and analyze them for the presence of bacteria. By performing authentic data collection, students developed foundational skills in microbiology within a meaningful context.
In conclusion, we wish to thank all the authors of these reports for sharing their interesting work with the readers of this journal.
— Trace Jordan and Eliza Reilly, Co-Editors-in-Chief
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Photographs for articles by Dr. Sanford, Dr. Liddicoat, and Dr. Movahedzadeh were provided by the authors.
The following photographs were used under the Creative Commons license: Everglades (USDA) and library (Stewart Butterfield).