The NSTA recommends that students will “be able to consider the trade-offs among alternative solutions when considering decisions that involve competing priorities (NSTA, 2010)”. This quote was taken from the National Science Teachers Association Position Statement on Teaching Science and Technology in the Context of Societal and Personal Issues.
When I read this, I instantly thought of my 8th period Earth Science class. In an activity that allowed them to investigate the processes of the water cycle (specifically precipitation and runoff), I gave them an article from the Democrat & Chronicle called Keep Cow Manure out of New York’s water. This article discussed how New York’s booming yogurt industry is negatively affecting New York waterways and lakes. For this activity, the students were asked to read the article and write down initial thoughts and then discuss what they read with a partner. This specific class really focused (through their own interest) on ways to fix the issue. This lead students to engage in conversation around “trade-offs among alternative solutions”. One students said to just get rid of the cows, while another student argued that the economy needs the cows. Below represents some of the responses I received and reflects some of the discussion held in class.
Bringing this issue-based lesson to class increased the students’ interest in learning the water cycle, while providing them a meaningful connection to the content. I feel it opened up more opportunity to discuss relevant science applications in real world situations.
Something else I would like to mention and this is specifically directed toward Jessica. Today I attended a PD on Ubd that involved Living Environment Teachers and Earth Science Teachers. The Living Environment teachers were discussing the food web and ecology. They planned on using The Lion King as an example. They were going to use the opening scene and the scene below. It might help, it might not
Bryant, E. (2014). Keep cow manure out of New York’s water. Democrat & Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/06/06/dairy-cows-manure-owasco-lake/10102171/
NSTA. (2010). Teaching Science and Technology in the Context of Societal and Personal Issues. Retrieved from http://www.nsta.org/docs/PositionStatement_TeachingScienceAndTechnology.pdf.