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High School Research in Limnology

Learning Concepts, Facts, the Research Process, and the Nature of Science

Paper presented at the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography 2005 Aquatic Sciences Meeting,
Salt Lake City, Utah, February 20-25, 2005.

K. Taylor, CSIP Teacher, Dryden High School
E. Variano, CSIP Fellow, Cornell University

Fellows in Cornell University's GK-12 site grant focus on leading high school students in inquiry-based research projects. Here we highlight the challenges and opportunities of teaching the scientific research process itself, and how this technique works especially well when teaching aquatic science. Our example will be a case study of an 11th and 12th grade Environmental Science class, in which many students are enrolled to meet their state-mandated science requirement. The students are studying Cayuga Lake (Finger Lakes, NY) from physical, biological, chemical, and systematic perspectives. We used an intensive series of classroom laboratory experiments to set the stage for a group decision making process, through which the class selected a question in limnology and designed an appropriate procedure to address this question. The experiment was performed during a trip on Cayuga Lake's Floating Classroom, a teaching vessel with excellent, but often underutilized, research capabilities. We will use the lessons learned from this case study to design and test shorter inquiry-based activities for use in classrooms with more strict time constraints. Our discussion will also include a variety of lessons that Fellows have learned about their own research and the research process in general as a result of participating in the GK-12 program.



Copyright 2006 CSIP, Cornell University