As an 8th grade Earth and Space Science teacher, Julia Segawa enjoys “watching science come alive through hands-on, content-related activities.” Julia is the Stevenson Middle School host for the STEM Pre-Academy C-MORE Science Kits, and uses the kits to supplement her curriculum throughout the year.
Julia uses the Ocean Conveyer Belt Kit because it fits in nicely with her oceanography unit and provides appropriate activities for students to put their science and engineering skills to the test. “The kit was exactly what I needed--it was awesome!” The four-lesson kit introduces some fundamental concepts in oceanography including density, ocean circulation, nutrient cycling, and variations in the chemical, biological, and physical properties of seawater through hands-on and computer-based experiments.
With the Ocean Conveyor Belt Kit, students work in collaborative teams to develop an understanding of density. The kit has students create a four-layer water density model that incorporates temperature and salinity--Julia asks her students to dive deeper (!!) and model five or six layers.
Engineering processes are embedded in the activities and are explored by the students as they develop, test, and improve their challenge-solving plans. Students loved the hands-on approach and demonstrated their understanding of the concepts while working through their own iterative processes.
Julia is particularly fond of the kit activity that uses mobius strip models to tie the lesson on water density to ocean circulation. Throughout the year, students continued making connections to the content by analyzing maps from NOAA and NASA and developing their own inferences and questions.
Giving students a deeper understanding of the impact of Earth’s oceans on climate and ecosystems, and specifically to understand density changes due to temperature and minerals were primary learning objectives and the C-MORE kit helped students surpass these expectations. Students also discovered the kit’s real-world connections to the processes driving climate change and asked questions like “What would happen to deep ocean currents if climate change continues?”
Julia commented, “hearing students say, ‘oh, maybe I can do a science fair project on this next year’ is the best reward. Diving into student-centered learning opportunities offered by the C-MORE Science Kits allows students to see that science is not an isolated subject, but rather, an important piece of a much larger whole.”
Many thanks to Julia Segawa for her commitment to her students and for sharing her story!
Julia Segawa is an 8th grade, Earth and Space Science teacher at Stevenson Middle School and a recipient of the 2011 Hawai‘i Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.