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The Science and Mathematics Education Center is pleased to maintain this website as an archival repository of materials developed during our NSF funded GK-12 Fellows project.  While some "news" is dated, the lessons, Science Literature Database and faculty SCORE posters remain valuable tools for the science classroom. 

Social Science Technology Integration - GIS

Bridging the Gap between Middle Grade Natural and Social Science

Year 1

Last year we introduced GK-12 Project Teachers and Fellows to ARGWorld and GIS technology in a pilot project that integrated the natural and the social sciences. Some teachers incorporated ARGWorld into their science classroom activities; however, few teachers made use of GIS technology in their classrooms. We feel that this was a result of the steep learning curve required to understand GIS technology, the information presented in the GIS workshop, and our lack of concentrating on activity development tied to the N.C. Standard Course of Study goals. Although some activities were used in the workshops that were tied to the 7 th grade goals, much of their use was illustrative rather than hands-on. Based on teacher comments from the fall sessions, the third session was designed to be more hands-on, activity centered, and teachers' comments were much more positive. We plan to continue with this approach during the fourth workshop in April but don't feel that we have had time enough to achieve all of our original project objectives. We want to build upon the successes of our project begun last year but desire to be more effective and have a greater impact on the middle grade curriculum.

Our pilot project has only recently begun to achieve the objectives of introducing GIS and ARGWorld to the 7 th grade Project Teachers and Fellows stated in last year's supplemental proposal. The data presented in the first three sessions of the GIS workshop were important as it was important to develop an understanding and appreciation of the concepts and practices of spatial analysis as well as sources of information for future use. Our experience, however, has shown us that a better way to add a social science component to natural sciences is to work with a smaller cohort of teachers rather than a large number. We also have learned that it will be better to work across all middle grade levels as each has different goals but with common threads that are amenable to integrating the natural and social sciences.

Year  2

We are continuing to integrate the natural and social sciences through use of GIS technology and ARGWorld, but have determined that we can have a greater impact across the middle school curriculum by closely working with selected teachers who represent the 6 th , 7 th and 8 th grades in a single school. We have also determined that by using teachers who previously were part of our GK-12 project, we will be more successful in integrating the two science areas. We are currently using Williston Middle School for Math, Science and Technology as the GIS development site because the school has a state-of-the-art technology center, technology coordinators and a highly supportive administrative staff. The two Fellows work closely with selected teachers and develop grade specific, hands on activities using GIS that combine the natural and social sciences, and that address the competency goals of the N. C. Standard Course of Study for the 6 th , 7 th and 8 th grade. The director of UNCW's Spatial Analysis Lab serves as a Project Faculty member and validates the GIS component of the activities that are developed. Selected Project Teachers validate the activities that are developed and make certain they address the competency goals of the appropriate grades and are at the appropriate level for student comprehension in the classroom. Activities that are developed, tested and validated at Williston Middle School will be introduced to other GK-12 Fellows for use in the other county middle schools. The project teachers will serve as a conduit to teachers in the appropriate grade level within Williston Middle School, but also will offer a professional development for teachers at other county middle schools or the New Hanover County School System Continuous Development workshop. Activities developed that address the competency goals of the middle grades will be collated, placed on appropriate grade specific CDs and distributed to teachers in New Hanover County Middle Schools.