Pacific Education Institute’s Field Investigation Model Using the SPARK and My World GIS Technology for Students to Engage Them in Real World Research
OLYMPIA, Wash., March 18 — Through Pacific Education Institute’s field investigation model students explore different types of questions to understand their environment. Using the inquiry process students go from exploring their local environment with descriptive investigations and then advance to comparative and correlative investigations by either looking at similarities, differences or relationships. PEI’s Field Investigation curriculum gives strategies for good question development by students that are planning of investigations and writing conclusions. It demonstrates how to discuss the implications of the investigations. Further, the Field Investigation Guide provides rubrics for assessing student work to inform instruction. Using the Field Investigation Model, students are collecting real world data and contributing to our understanding of natural systems.
Integrating technology is the next step to make the data collected in field investigations more robust (accurate and precise) and therefore more valuable to society’s understanding of natural systems. By integrating PEI’s field investigation model with PASCO’s SPARK system and My World GIS technology, student data will be more valuable for various stake holders, including natural resource agencies, by providing accurate and reliable data and student research to help inform decisions. What could be more powerful for students than providing real data for real world decisions?
When students start correlative questions, or understanding relationships in the natural world, the SPARK will be a useful tool. Correlative questions are not often seen in the classroom because of the complex nature of measuring two variables at the same time. The SPARK provides an amazing opportunity for students to do just that while also increasing their ability to answer more complex questions, using the data collection and graphing tools. Further, My World GIS mapping capabilities again provide students with the visuals to understand ever more complex systems as they look for patterns and trends in data. For example, we always tell students that dissolved oxygen in water is related to temperature. Now students will be able to collect data in the field using the SPARK, and analyze it using My World GIS.
As a learning tool the SPARK can also provide students with guidance through the inquiry process. Students can now use and re-access learning tools at their own pace. The data they are collecting can be placed by PEI into the investigations using SPARKvue(TM) software. For example, the SPARK allows students to look at environmental standards such as the pH needs of salmon, while they are collecting pH data on a salmon creek. The students are able to immediately see the value and reason for the data they are collecting.
By adding the SPARK and My World GIS technology, students go from just doing an investigation for the sake of an investigation to doing an investigation to contribute accurate data for their communities and local decision-making processes.