TEA Banner
TEA Activities Workshop
26 July to 2 August 1999
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Dear Colleagues,

Following are outcomes from the 26 July to 2 August TEA Activity Workshop at Rice University in Houston, Texas. We invite your comments on our discussion and ideas put forth in the notes below.

First Annual TEA Workshop Parcticipants

Workshop Notes

Activity Template

"5 E's" by Roger Bybee

Activity Review Form

Peter Amati, Holliston High School, Massachusetts
Kristen Bjork, Education Development Center, Newton, Massachusetts
Besse Dawson, Pearland High School, Pearland, Texas
Kim Giesting, Connersville High School, Connersville, Indiana
Charlotte Kelchner, Rice University, Houston, Texas
Terry Lashley, Appalachian Rural Systemic Initiative Resource Collaborative
University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee
Debra Meese, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire
Emily Olanoff, Rice University, Houston, Texas
George Palo, Gig Harbor High School, Gig Harbor, Washington
Bill Philips, Frederica, Delaware
Larry Rose, Pleasanton Middle School, Pleasanton, California
Barbara Schulz, Lakeside School, Seattle, Washington
Stephanie Shipp, Rice University, Houston, Texas
Sandy Shutey, Butte High School, Butte, Montana
Frank Willingham, Ilisagvik College, Barrow Alaska
Lee Willson, Rice University, Houston, Texas
Linda Wygoda, Sam Houston High School, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Clarice Yentsch, Education Development Center, Newton, Massachusetts

Objectives of TEA and Associates Activities:
To share with other teachers and students the personal experiences and research adventures undertaken by TEA teachers while working as science team members in the polar regions.

What Constitutes an Ideal TEA Activity?
TEA activities are hands-on and inquiry-based. They infuse the personal and research experience into the classroom. They reflect accurate and current science, and effectively integrate other disciplines where possible. They help teachers become comfortable with facilitating research in the classroom. These are activities to remember; they mirror the wonder, awe, and joy of exploration.

TEA Activities:
  • are inquiry-based (guided or open); encourage students to ask questions,
  • design experiments, build knowledge
  • integrate the polar research experiences and/or personal polar experiences of the author
  • provide sufficient prompts, background information, activity guides, student sheets, etc. to enable non-TEA teachers to become comfortable as learners and facilitators in the research experience
  • reflect science in the field
  • use real data where possible; connect to "live" aspects of polar science
  • use correct science and promote good use of scientific principals
  • underscore the relevance of polar science and major concepts in science
  • integrate science and humanities disciplines where possible
  • link, where possible, to the National Science Education Standards and to other, appropriate standards
  • target a grade level during development phases to ensure the activity is sufficiently focused to be of use to other teachers. Activities subsequently can be "scaled up" or "scaled down" to include other grade levels (with adequate prompts)
  • are developmentally appropriate for the targeted grade level
  • address multiple learning styles where possible
  • explicitly address misconceptions
  • link to multiple resources for background and extension
    provide assessment tools
  • employ meaningful, responsible and appropriate use of technology (web, CD, e-mail, and CU-SeeMe)
  • undergo review by teachers, scientists, and students for pedagogy and content

  • The list is long! Not every activity will have every component. However, examination of many of the activities posted on the TEA's Only page reveals many do cover the majority of the desired attributes!

    A set of Author Prompts were designed by the parcticipating TEAs and Associates to aid development of activities (see "Author Prompts" below; available on the TEA's Only Page). These reflect considerable thought and discussion by TEA and Associate colleagues. They were created with "activity-users" in mind - they will guide development of consistently presented activities for use by others who have not had the opportunity to parcticipate in research or visit the polar regions. The more information provided to the users, the more likely the activities will be incorporated into classrooms in the way we desire. We hope that everyone will share their thoughts about the Author Prompts and will use them when developing materials for the TEA website.

    What is "Inquiry" Based?
    There was considerable (perhaps too much?! :) ) discussion among parcticipants about what constitutes an "inquiry based" activity - everyone has a different definition. It does not seem practical for all activities to reflect completely open-ended research by the students with little input by the facilitator. This would restrict the number of classrooms using the materials and the types of activities that could be developed. Where possible, activities should offer guided inquiry, at least (see excerpt of Roger Bybee's 5-E's), in which the teachers act as learners and facilitators and the students explore the topic, building and testing their own knowledge. Part of the challenge before us is to help non-TEA teachers become comfortable with exploration in the classroom. TEAs have had the opportunity to see research in action and have changed their teaching because of it; activity development is a way to share and encourage innovative teaching in others.

    Must all Activities be Some Form of Inquiry - Must They Reflect the Research Experience?
    Some activities may not be developed easily into "open-ended inquiry" or "guided inquiry" explorations. Some TEAs and Associates have materials that use the poles as a vehicle to explore other topics. This stated, our goal is not to develop "101 activities about the North and South poles." The TEAs and Associates have too much to offer to other classrooms in ways that maximize their experience. It was agreed that each TEA should develop at least one open- or guided-inquiry activity that truly reflects their research experience. Gaining valuable professional development through the research experience, and infusing the research experience into the classroom, are the reasons NSF supports TEAs in the field.

    One of the most significant outcomes from the meeting: creation of exciting, teacher-friendly, meaningful activities is time-consuming and challenging. Crafting innovative activities that reflect your experiences, personal and scientific, at the poles benefits tremendously from collaboration. The materials need to be peer- and researcher-reviewed prior to placing them in the general arena. We have attempted to lay a path for collaboration and review; let us all make use of our interested and enthusiastic colleagues!

    Level of Activities:
    There was considerable discussion about the age level of materials to be developed. The TEAs and Associates are specialists in the materials they teach at the levels they teach; at least some of the materials they develop will reflect their discipline and age level. Some TEAs and Associates wished to develop materials targeting levels different from their classroom experience. Like all activities, these will be field tested and reviewed, with a parcticular emphasis on age-appropriateness.

    The Review Process
    We want these activities to be fantastic! They should bring the excitement of our adventures into the classrooms of other teachers! They should reflect the best science integrated with the best teaching practices! Hence, review of the materials by colleagues, researchers, and students is critical!

    The following schedule is intended to get the materials reviewed and classroom tested before NSTA. The activities will be presented by the authors at an NSTA workshop.

    Please parcticipate! And with the objective of having fantastic activities, please be candid. Encourage your colleagues to review and classroom test the materials. A review sheet is attached to each activity (see TEA Activity Evaluation, below) and a copy goes to the primary author with a copy to Stephanie.

  • 1 October - draft activities submitted

  • 7 October - activities posted on TEA's Only website for review by TEA's, TEA Associates, and researchers

  • 1 November - reviewers comments submitted to activity author

  • 1 December - reviewers comments incorporated by author(s); updated activity posted on TEA's Only website for implementation/evaluation in the classroom by TEA's, TEA Associates, and invited teachers

  • 1 February - reviewers comments submitted to activity author

  • 1 March - reviewers comments incorporated by author(s); updated activity posted on open website

  • 25-28 March - presentation of activities, website, and program by activity authors at NSTA

  • Getting Researches Involved
    As materials are posted on the TEA's Only Website, a general note will be sent to request content review from researchers. However, it will generate more researcher involvement if TEAs contact their PI and research team to encourage comments and suggestions. This shows the researchers that their materials are getting into classroom (=fame) and is another path to strengthen interaction between educators and scientists. Please let your research team know about the activity you have developed! Consider inviting them to become co-authors!

    Where Can I Find the Activities NOW?
    The activities have been moved to the TEA's Only site so that they can be peer reviewed. After we get feedback, the activities will be revised and placed on the open website. Again, please use and review the materials and please encourage your colleagues to use and evaluate them.

    Posted Activities:
  • Peter Amati presents the insulation properties of long underwear in a series of activities that lead the students through experimental design for measuring heat loss, moisture wicking, etc. (9-12 physical science).

  • Larry Rose has wrapped engineering, oceanography, and meteorology into polar ocean exploration (both poles - Fram, Endurance) (6-8 earth science). He also has a meteorite activity that explores glacier flow.

  • Barb Schulz has a suite of activities that fit under the umbrella of "life in extreme environments" (AP biology / environmental science).

  • Sandy Shutey's collection of ice core activities are linked through Earth's climate records locked in the ice (6-8 earth and environmental).

  • Marge Porter's materials draw on graphing and interpretation skills to understand the connections between Antarctic sea ice and snow thickness.

  • Linda Wygoda's activities target the wind chill and measuring the spectrum.

  • Sandi Kolb's activity focuses on learning graphing skills using Antarctic weather.

  • Carole Bennett's activity relates LC-130 landing conditions to pressure and forces on the sea ice. Rather thrilling/eye-opening to anyone who has landed on the ice.

  • Soon-To-Be-Posted Activities
  • Besse Dawson has designed some neat phytoplankton respiration experiments (9-12 biology/marine science).

  • Kim Giesting has an activity that explores the past glacial history as revealed by sediment cores from the Antarctic Sea Floor. Better - it's edible.

  • Bill Philips and Sandy Shutey are working on a web-based mystery that motivates students into exploring the South Pole through the TEA and GLACIER websites.

  • Others that are "in the mail" ?

  • A Gentle Reminder from your funder, NSF:
    All TEAs and Associates are welcome and encouraged to parcticipate in the development of materials. However - Please remember that TEAs, starting with, and subsequent to, the 1997/1998 "cohort" are required by NSF to develop activities. This is one way in which your experience grows beyond you and your classroom; sharing of your research and personal experience enhances the value of NSF's investment in your adventure. The activities workshop, the website, and communication paths with TEA and Associate colleagues are tools to help meet the goals of the TEA program and NSF. Please take advantage of these. Failure to develop classroom materials within a year of your return will reduce your opportunities to gain TEA funding to attend workshops, orientations, NSTA, and other educational and scientific meetings.

    Many of you have indicated that you have materials under development - please send those materials (even if past the 1 October deadline) to Stephanie ASAP so that they can get onto the website for review and field testing! Thank You!

    Author Prompts


    Abstract of the activity - what will the students do and why?

    Why is this activity relevant, applicable, or important for the student to perform.

    Grade Level/Discipline
    Target student level with possible applications to other grade levels (e.g., "9 - 10, but may be adapted to middle school")

    What skills will the students use, amplify and/or learn as new?

    National Standards
    Which NSES/Benchmark does this activity support? Other standards?

    Teacher Preparation for Activity

    Materials List
    What materials are needed by the entire class? By each student group? By each student?

    Pre-activity set-up
    What should the facilitator do before the students arrive in class? What you may need to order or set up well in advance.

    Time Frame
    How long will the activity take? Describe this in practical, usable terms (periods, minutes, days, weeks, etc.).

    Teaching Sequence

    Engagement and Exploration (Student Inquiry Activity)
    Present options for introducing activity to students:
  • Possibly includes a reproducible master for students (procedure).
  • Probably no familiar scientific terms at this point
  • May be a series of explorations
  • May include discrepant event(s)
  • Preferably "hands-on"
  • Possible strategies for introducing include:
  • Scenario(s) - hypothetical real-life problem where students brainstorm possible explanations (Teacher says: "I received these samples in the mail. I thought they may be biological samples. Please test them to find out what they are.")
  • Probing Questions (Teacher explains the terrible conditions in the Polar regions, then asks students "How do organisms live in such incredibly harsh environments?"
  • Polar Anecdotes - Story about something that happened while on the ice. (Journal entry. "I was sitting out waiting for supplies when the C-130 landed. I couldn't figure out why they were using skis and not wheels, so I decided to research the problem.")
  • Explanation (Discussing)
    Discussion of what happened in the engagement and exploration section and why. Teacher acts as a facilitator for student discussion. Teacher also uses this time to assess student understanding and possible misconceptions. Introduce scientific terms and background as needed. Introduce polar research connections.

    Elaboration (Polar Applications)
    Application of the explanation to the parcticular problem involving research from Polar region. Students expand on the concepts they have learned. Probably includes another reproducible master.

    Exchange (Students Draw Conclusions)
    Students determine what happened and why. Links to analysis in student reproducible master. Achieve consensus. (Conclusion)

    Evaluation (Assessing Student Performance)
    How can the teacher assess student outcome? Possibly include rubrics, other suggestions for evaluating student knowledge.

    Who created the activity?

    What do your colleagues need to know about the science behind this activity?
  • Explanation with links to original research (historical and current)
  • Possible Misconceptions

  • Resources
  • References (Books/Journals)
  • Websites
  • Link to Polar Project Principal Investigator
  • Other Media

  • Student Reproducible Masters - If Needed
  • Materials - list of materials.
  • General Activity Description - procedure written for students.
  • Analysis - Questions for class discussion aimed at consensus.

  • The Five E's
    from Roger Bybee,
    Biological Curriculum Science Study (BSCS)

    Briefly, this learning approach as it relates to science can be summarized as follows:

    Learning something new, or attempting to understand something familiar in greater depth, is not a linear process. In trying to make sense of things we use both our prior experience and the first-hand knowledge gained from new explorations. Initially, our curiosity about a science topic is stirred, as we are stimulated by some intriguing phenomena, such as a rainbow, we've noticed. We poke, probe, inquire about and explore this phenomena until it becomes less mysterious. As we begin to investigate new ideas we can put together bits and pieces of prior explorations that seem to fit our understanding of the phenomena under present investigation. In the case of the rainbow, for example, we may realize that there is an association between sunlight and water vapor. Piece by piece we build knowledge. Sometimes when the pieces don't fit together, we must break down old ideas and reconstruct them. (Following a rainbow to find a pot of gold doesn't work easily!) We extend our conceptual understanding through discussions and creative efforts. We validate our theories as we solve problems. In our rainbow example, we may realize that if we position ourselves properly, we can create a rainbow by spraying a water hose in sunlight. The clarity we've gained in understanding a concept gives us the ability to apply this understanding to new situations and new mysteries. It is a continuous and a very individual process. We bring to each learning experience our developmental level, our personal story and our personal style.

    Engage . . . stimulates the learner's curiosity.
    In the stage Engage, the students first encounter and identify the instructional task. Here they make connections between past and present learning experiences, lay the organizational ground work for the activities ahead and stimulate their involvement in the anticipation of these activities. Asking a question, defining a problem, showing a surprising event and acting out a problematic situation are all ways to engage the students and focus them on the instructional tasks. If we were to make an analogy to the world of marketing a product, at first we need to grab the customer's attention. We won't have their attention unless they have a need to buy the product. They may be unaware of a need, and in this case we are motivated to create a need.

  • What the student does that is consistent with this model:
  • Shows interest in the topic by asking questions, such as:
  • "Why did this happen?"
  • "What do I already know about this?"
  • "What can I find out about this?"

  • What the teacher does that is consistent with this model:
  • Creates interest
  • Generates curiosity
  • Raises questions
  • Elicits responses that uncover what the students know or think about the concept/topic

  • Explore . . . to satisfy curiosity.
    In the Exploration stage the students have the opportunity to get directly involved with phenomena and materials. Involving themselves in these activities they develop a grounding of experience with the phenomenon. As they work together in teams, students build a base of common experience which assists them in the process of sharing and communicating. The teacher acts as a facilitator, providing materials and guiding the students' focus. The students' inquiry process drives the instruction during an exploration.

  • What the student does that is consistent with this model:
  • Uses inquiry to explore and investigate; to satisfy his/her curiosity about the chosen concept/topic.
  • Thinks freely, but within the limits of the activity.
  • Tests predictions and hypotheses.
  • Forms new predictions and hypotheses.
  • Experiments with alternatives and discusses then with others.
  • Records observations and ideas.
  • Suspends judgments.

  • What the teacher does that is consistent with this model:
  • Encourages the students to work together with minimum supervision.
  • Observes and listens to the students.
  • Asks probing questions to redirect the students' investigations when necessary.
  • Provides time for students to work through problems.
  • Acts as a facilitator.

  • Explain . . . the concept and define the terms.
    The third stage, Explain, is the point at which the learner begins to put the abstract experience through which she/he has gone /into a communicable form. Language provides motivation for sequencing events into a logical format. Communication occurs between peers, the facilitator, or within the learner himself. Working in groups, learners support each other's understanding as they arcticulate their observations, ideas, questions and hypotheses. Language provides a tool of communicable labels. These labels, applied to elements of abstract exploration, give the learner a means of sharing these explorations. Explanations from the facilitator can provide names that correspond to historical and standard language, for student findings and events. For example a child, through her exploration, may state they have noticed that a magnet has a tendency to "stick" to a certain metallic object. The facilitator, in her discussion with the child, might at this stage introduce terminology referring to "an attracting force". Introducing labels, after the child has had a direct experience, is far more meaningful than before that experience. The experiential base she has built offers the student an attachment place for the label. Common language enhances the sharing and communication between facilitator and students. The facilitator can determine levels of understanding and possible misconceptions. Created works such as writing, drawing, video, or tape recordings are communications that provide recorded evidence of the learner's development, progress and growth.

  • What the student does that is consistent with this model:
  • Uses various informational resources, group discussions, and teacher interaction to derive definitions and explanations of the chosen concept.
  • Explains possible solutions or answers to others' explanations.
  • Listens critically to others' explanations.
  • Questions others' explanations.
  • Listens to and tries to comprehend explanations the teacher offers.
  • Refers to previous activities.
  • Uses recorded observations in explanations.

  • What the teacher does that is consistent with this model:
  • Encourages the students to explain concepts and definitions.
  • Asks for justification (evidence) and clarification from students.
  • Formally provides definitions, explanations, and new labels.
  • Uses students' previous experiences as the basis for explaining new concepts.

  • Elaborate . . . discovering new applications.
    In stage four, Elaborate, the students expand on the concepts they have learned, make connections to other related concepts, and apply their understandings to the world around them. For example, while exploring light phenomena, a learner constructs an understanding of the path light travels through space. Examining a lamp post, she may notice that the shadow of the post changes its location as the day grows later. This observation can lead to further inquiry as to possible connections between the shadow's changing location and the changes in direction of the light source, the Sun. Applications to real world events, such as where to plant flowers so that they receive sunlight most of the day, or how to prop up a beach umbrella for shade from the Sun, are both extensions and applications of the concept that light travels in a straight path. These connections often lead to further inquiry and new understandings.

  • What the student does that is consistent with this model:
  • Applies new labels, definitions, explanations and skills in new, yet similar situations.
  • Uses previous information to ask questions, propose solutions, make decisions, and design experiments.
  • Draws reasonable conclusions from evidence.
  • Records observations and explanations.
  • Makes connections and sees relationships of the concept/topic in other content areas.
  • Forms expanded understanding of original concepts/topics.
  • Makes connections of concept/topic to real world situations.
  • Checks for peer understanding.

  • What the teacher does that is consistent with this model:
  • Expects the students to use formal labels, definitions, and explanations provided previously.
  • Encourages the students to apply or extend the concepts and skills in new situations.
  • Looks for concepts connecting with other concepts/topics and/or with other content areas.
  • Asks probing questions to help students see relationships between concept/topic and other content areas.
  • Reminds students of the existing evidence and data and asks:
    What do you already know?
    Why do you think . . .

  • Evaluate . . . the student's understanding.
    Evaluate, the fifth "E", is an on-going diagnostic process that allows the teacher to determine if the learner has attained understanding of concepts and knowledge. Evaluation and assessment can occur at all points along the continuum of the instructional process. Some of the tools that assist in this diagnostic process are: rubrics (quantified and prioritized outcome expectations) determined hand-in-hand with the lesson design, teacher observation structured by checklists, student interviews, portfolios designed with specific purposes, project and problem-based learning products, and embedded assessments. Concrete evidence of the learning proceed is most valuable in communications between students, teachers, parents and administrators. Displays of attainment and progress enhance understanding for all parties involved in the educational process, and can become jumping off points for further enrichment of the students' education. These evidences of learning serve to guide the teacher in further lesson planning and may signal the need for modification and change of direction. For example, if a teacher perceives clear evidence of misconception, then he/she can revisit the concept to enhance clearer understanding. If the students show profound interest in a branching direction of inquiry, the teacher can consider re-focusing the investigation to take advantage of this high level of interest.

  • What the student does that is consistent with this model
  • Answers open-ended questions by using observations, evidence, and
  • previously accepted explanations.
  • Demonstrates an understanding or knowledge of the concept or skill.
  • Evaluates his or her own progress and knowledge.
  • Uses alternative assessments to demonstrate their understanding of the concept/topic.

  • What the teacher does that is consistent with this model
  • Observes the students as they apply new concepts and skills.
  • Assesses students' knowledge and/or skills.
  • Looks for evidence that the students have changed their thinking or behaviors.
  • Allows students to assess their own learning and group-process skills.
  • Asks open-ended questions like:
    Why do you think . . . ?
    What evidence do you have?
    What do you know about . . . ?
    How would you explain . . . ?

  • This material adapted from the Miami Museum of Science (http://www.miamisci.org/ph/lpintro7e.html)

    TEA Activity Evaluation

    Dear Colleague,

    Thank you for taking the time to field test this activity in your classroom. These materials are in draft format; they are being reviewed by teachers, students, and researchers to ensure a rich, accurate activity is available for use by other teachers and students. Please take a few minutes to provide your insights about the activity; they will help guide the activity revisions.

    Name of Activity:


    Electronic Mailing Address:

    Class and age group to which the material was/will be presented?

    Is level and discipline appropriate?

    Are the science standards appropriate?

    Is the science correct and presented in a clear and understandable manner?

    Were the instructions clear and easy to follow?

    Does the activity incorporate the polar science experience in a natural and exciting manner?

    Is good scientific practice followed?

    Does the activity use the past and current TEA journal entries in an appropriate manner? Can more be integrated? Where?

    Is the background sufficient, clear, and correct? Is the relevance of the science clearly stated (i.e., why is this project important?)?

    Are the resources sufficient? Pertinent?

    Are the assessments appropriate (if available)?

    Did you use the activity in its entirety?

    What parts of the activity did you change? How?

    What parts of the activity did you drop? Why?

    What parts of the activity did you add? Why?

    Suggestions for further extensions?

    Below, please make specific comments that will help the author address your comments, suggestions, and concerns.

    Again, we appreciate your input! Your suggestions will make these activities meaningful and useful to other teachers and students. Thank you!

    The TEA Community