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Study of Place: Available Now!

An ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE Supplemental Curriculum for Grades 5-8

Study of Place is a collection of two, approximately two-week-long environmental science modules for middle-school students. The Teacher Guide and Student Guide are available from the Apple iBook Store.

    • Antarctic Exploration explores the relationship between the expanse of sea ice and seasonal change, framed by the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to Antarctica and how, when his ship became icebound and was crushed to pieces, he and his crew survived before being rescued 2 years after their journey began.
    • Oceans Currents Exploration explores the mysterious Gulf Stream, framed by the story of Benjamin Franklin's quest to explain why English ships carrying mail to the American colonies took two weeks longer to cross the Atlantic than colonial merchant ships going the other way.

When designing the two modules, we did the following:

  1. We set learning in the context of specific geographical locations. Places are purposely selected from the global context to help students see their world as an interconnected system.
  2. We put a human face on Earth science. Each module begins with a compelling dilemma set in an historical event that illustrates the connection between the physical environment and human activity, e.g., the influence of seasonal changes in sea ice on Shackleton’s early 20th-century expedition to the Antarctic.
  3. We gave inquiry a leading role. Students carry out extended investigations that help them understand the historical dilemma. These investigations are carefully designed to introduce students to key Earth science concepts and to give them skills and strategies for working with visual data.
  4. We embedded assessment in each module. Each chapter contains an assessment opportunity and scoring rubric. Brief checks for understanding are included as well. We expect these will both enhance learning and inform teaching.

Each chapter consists of a series of activities, including:

  • Getting Your Bearings—a short reading on content and its relevance to the related story
  • Exploring and Discovering—a student learning activity
  • Looking Closer—a student learning activity that builds upon Exploring and Discovering
  • Applying What You’ve Learned—an assessment item

The Study of Place eBook set was developed by TERC, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is based on a web-based curriculum of the same name, which was also developed by TERC, Inc. and was funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect views of the National Science Foundation.