Teaching physical sciences by ocean inquiry

Syllabus- Spring 2007


SMS 491 and EDW 472


Meeting times: Wednesdays 10:00-11:15

                        Thursdays: 3:30-4:45



Herman Weller (college of Education): Herman_Weller@umit.maine.edu

 Lee Karp-Boss (SMS): lee.karp-boss@maine.edu

Emmanuel Boss (SMS): emmauel.boss@maine.edu

Abby Manahan (SMS): abigail.manahan@maine.edu


TA: Jennifer Albright: Jennifer.Albright@umit.maine.edu


Office hours: by appointment


Course goal: Introduce science majors to a variety of inquiry-based teaching strategies using examples from marine sciences.


Student responsibilities: attend classes, be on time, take active part in laboratory activities, participate in class discussions, present homework, material and ideas in front of the class, maintain an active journal, provide feedback via journal and via discussions with instructors, read reading material, submit weekly assignments and a final project.



Participation (every class)- 20%.

Homework (weekly) – 30%

Journal (biweekly) -20%. For journal expectation please open the linked PDF.

Final project (last week of class) - design a full lesson plan (presentation and lesson plan document)- 30%

    Rubrics:  Reflective journal (PDF)

                    Lesson activity design (PDF)

                    Lesson activity design + assessment (PDF)

                    Final project - lesson plan (PDF)


Reading:  as a preparation for the labs, reading material will be provided prior to each lab session. It provides the necessary background material for the science concepts addressed in the lab and students are expected to be familiar with the material before arriving to the lab.   


Prior to the first class the participating students were requested to complete a pre-class evaluation (PDF) to assess pre knowledge and to provide a background for the evaluation that will follow the class. 







January 17

-Introduction and course mechanics

-Introduction to exploration in teaching and learning: visit to the ARC.


Homework: generate questions and email them to instructors.

January 18

Exploration of Rich Question-Eliciting Environment.

Handout - "What is a unit in teaching?" (PDF)



1. Journal prompt:
"What makes a good science question?" Hint: Some questions are useless for science.

2. Design a lesson activity that uses a rich environment to elicit many student questions. Specify what the learning objectives are for the students doing the activity.


Readings for next week (from Segar’s book “Ocean Sciences”):

Critical concept 1: density and layering in fluids (p. CC1-CC4)

Critical concept 6: Salinity, Temperature, Pressure and water density (p. CC16-CC17)


January 24

Discrepant event – Density Lab (PDF)

Density Lab Explanations (PDF)

January 25

“Discrepant Event” as a teaching strategy (PDF)

Review "What makes a good science question?" (PDF)


January 31

Inductive activity- Pressure Lab Reading (PDF)

Pressure Lab Handout (PDF)

Pressure Lab Explanations (PDF)

February 1

“Student Prediction and Initial Exploration”  as a teaching strategy

Handouts - "Exploration" in science teaching (PDF)

                  Student "predicting" in science teaching (PDF)

                  Teacher - Asked questions (PDF)


February 7

Generating questions and hypotheses: Buoyancy lab

Buoyancy Lab Handout and Explanations (PDF)

February 8

“Generating Hypotheses” as a teaching strategy (PDF)


February 14

Measurements and ocean technology (no class)

February 15

Methods for teaching measurements (PDF)



February 21

Applications of density, buoyancy and pressure

February 22

Ocean literacy


February 28

Explanation/Invention:  Heat and temperature lab (PDF part 1

March 1

“Explanation/Invention” as a teaching strategy (PDF)

---------------March 3-18 spring break-------------


March 21

Explanation/Invention: Heat and temperature lab cont. (PDF part 2)

March 22

“Explanation/Invention” as a teaching strategy (continued)

Handouts - Some practical science teaching considerations involving students' math skills - part 1 (PDF)

                  Misconceptions ("Alternative Conceptions") in science teaching (PDF)

                  Examples of science misconceptions ("Alternative Conceptions") and teaching models for dealing/

                  avoiding them (PDF)



March 28

Applications: global distributions of ocean temperature and consequences (PDF)

March 29

Applications as a teaching strategy

Handouts - Using internet sources to help teach science :some ideas and example websites (PDF)

                  Assessing you students' learning (PDF)


April 4

The learning cycle: energy transfer and food webs (PDF)

April 5

Summary: the learning cycle and lesson plans

Handouts - How many "items" can a person handle in working (short term) memory? (PDF)

                  Cooperative Learning (PDF)


April 11

Case study: Elkhorn Slough (PDF)

April 12

Problem solving/case study as a teaching strategy (PDF)


April 18

Deduction: the exponential function in marine science (PDF)

April 19

Deduction-transfer of learning (PDF)


April 25

Simulations in marine sciences: diffusion (PDF)

April 26

Simulation and modeling as a teaching strategy (PDF)


May 2

Combining marine science and education-career opportunities (PDF)

May 3

Summary and students’ presentations

    -Mucus, Muck, and More - Kate Jensen (PDF)

    -Trip to the Beach - Katie Clegg (PDF)

    -El Nino - Michelle Brodeur (PDF)

    -Isostacy  - Adam Casey (PDF)

    -Culture of Aquatic Invertebrates - Morgan Fahey (PDF)

          Culture of Aquatic Invertebrates (explanation) - Morgan Fahey (PDF)

    -The Ocean Floor - Caitlin Cameron (PDF)

    -Force of Gravity vs. Buoyancy Force - Gordon Provost (PDF)



List of resources available in the resource room (next to Shibles 216) to the students in SMS 491/EDW 472 [PDF].

©Karp-Boss, Weller and Boss 2007
This page was last edited on 05/11/2007