Geosciences in Alaska


Arctic Alaska Dinosaur Project

Team Members

Preparatory Field Trip to Pt. Reyes

Field Research in Alaska

Geoscience Conceptual Framework



 Teachers examine Alaska fossils

Geosciences in Alaska is a collaborative project that provided field and research opportunities for K–12 teachers in Contra Costa County, California. Team members included representatives of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, the University of Alaska Museum, and the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

Field Research:

Teachers participated in an introductory local field trip and four weeks of field research in Alaska during the summer of 2002. Using an inquiry-based approach, the field and research experiences focused on geologic processes, evidence for tectonics, and paleontology. The comparison between two distinct yet similar geological settings, in Alaska and California, reinforced the major concepts learned and allowed for a better understanding of the Earth as a dynamic system.

Student Impact:

Each of the teachers was given numerous resources to support their teaching. First and foremost, they had the experience of immersion into the science that they are teaching. However, they also came home with a “bone box” of fossils as well as supplementary materials that included books, CDs of images, maps, and student activities. These were shared with more than 1400 students throughout the district.

Sharing with Teachers:

Once the teachers returned to their classrooms in the fall, the team continued to work together to share what they learned with their colleagues. This included district workshops, formal and informal presentations, and providing access to bone boxes, slide sets, and other teaching resources. More than 150 teachers received information and/or access to resources through these presentations.

Geoscience Conceptual Framework:

As part of a longer range goal, the teachers also working on a teaching tool for the district—a Geoscience Conceptual Framework (click to download pdf) for students in grades K–12. The Framework is developed around five thematic areas of student learning: Earth as a system, Change, Conservation of natural resources, Earth’s history, and the Nature of Science.

Plans for 2004:

Building upon this project, many of the teachers continue to work with one another and with their University partners. Activities include:
GK12 Exploring California Biodiversity—Two of the teachers are currently working with graduate students from the Berkeley Natural History Museums (including UCMP) to learn about and contribute to research involving California biodiversity.
California Science Education Conference—The teacher team will be sharing their experiences and resources at this conference sponsored by the California Science Teachers Association.
California/DLESE Pilot—Members of the teacher team are involved in a pilot project to align DLESE resources to the conceptual framework.

Project partners and sponsors:
West Contra Costa Unified School District    UC Museum of Paleontology    University of Alaska Museum     National Science Foundation    The Mechanics Bank
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