The aim of this activity is for participants to reflect upon aspects
of their current practices when teaching about coastal and marine environments
in science and relate this to the "Working Scientifically" strand from
the nationally-developed curriculum for science.
Note to facilitators: Facilitators may choose to use the scientific
process sections of local syllabi instead of the national document in
this activity if this is likely to be more helpful to participants.
Conduct a brainstorming exercise in which participants work as a whole
group to develop a way of teaching about a particular coastal or marine
topic in science. The rules of brainstorming include:
- all suggestions are accepted as valid and useful;
- no positive or negative comments can be made about previous suggestions;
- all suggestions should be written up in a list for all to see in words
as close as possible to the original suggestion.
- Nominate a topic and Year/Grade level (or ask for suggestions from
group, if appropriate).
- Explain to participants that during the next section of this activity,
they will plan a two week unit of work on __________ (topic: e.g. reef
ecology, coastal erosion, etc.) for their students. This will be done
in two stages: firstly brainstorm all participants' suggestions for
the unit (explain the rules of brainstorming), and then participants
plan an outline of the unit from start to finish.
- After all suggestions have been listed, ask the group to nominate
ways of re-sequencing the suggestion to give a logical sequence of steps
or phases for the unit.
- As a conclusion to the activity, ask the group to suggest a name or
title for each step or phase.
Note to facilitators: This activity could be conducted in small
groups if there is a large number of participants attending or a variety
of levels of teaching science in the whole group.
- Provide each participant with a copy of Resource 1
and explain that it is based on the science process strand of the Science
- A Curriculum Profile for Australian Schools. Ask the groups to
compare the heading with the names they gave to the phases in their
unit. What are the reasons for the similarities and differences?
- Check the year/grade level for the group's teaching unit against the
eight levels in Resource 1 and compare the details in each step/phase
with the details in the profile for that level.
- Using an OHT of Resource 1,
ask a participant in each group to summarise the activity by highlighting
the statements (using an overhead pen) which match their current practice.
- Encourage a discussion over the details in the group's unit which
match with "Working Scientifically" and those which do not match with
- Ask whether the details form "Working Scientifically" could be valuable
to include in the group's unit? How true is the claim made by some scientists
that teachers often do not include them at present? Why?
2. Observing, Collecting Data and Generalising
The aim of this activity is to provide an overview of some common
methods used to investigate coastal and marine environments. It does this
by providing a summary of a common method used in schools and then engages
participants in the classification of some related activities using a mangrove
environment as an example. The activity sets the scene to challenge participants
to think about the validity of this method.
- Use OHT 1 and Reading 1
to present a mini-lecture that outlines how the scientific process can
proceed from observation to data collection, and then to forming generalisations.
- Divide participants into groups of four and provide each group with
a copy of Resources 2A -2D.
- After noting groups' answers to Questions 1 and 2, ask each
group to explain which activity from Resources 2A-2D
'best supports' the generalisations reached. Encourage debate and discussion
of the nominations.
3. Generalisations and Evidence
The purpose of this mini- lecture is to focus on the four mangrove activities
again and to consider: "Which activity 'best' supports the generalisations
reached and which cannot?" It provides an overview on how the process of
science seeks to support or reject generalisations. Reading 2
provides facilitators with background for this activity.
4. Barnacles in Mangrove Forests: An Example
This activity uses an example of barnacles in mangrove forests to
illustrate the concepts developed in the last activity.
- Explain to participants that a scientist (or student) has observed
that there are more barnacles on the bark of trees in a mangrove forest
in the seaward rather than landward areas of the forest. In the process
of "Working Scientifically" we ask 'why?' and, from our reading and
other experiences, could find many generalisations which could equally
explain the same observation. Display OHT 5.
- Use Reading 3 to explain that because
all are equally valid generalisations we require some method to distinguish
between them. Start with the simplest generalisation (OHT 6)
and work through the steps of hypothesis, null hypothesis, testing by
experiment, and then accepting or rejecting the null hypothesis and
generalisation based on the result.
- Explain the second example (OHT 7) and work
through the steps of hypothesis, null hypothesis, testing by experiment,
and then accepting or rejecting the null hypothesis and generalisation
based on the result.
- Summarise by revisiting Resource 2D
and encourage discussion as to whether this activity followed the general
steps outlined in OHT 7.
5. Designing a Field Trip
This activity uses data to allow participants to work through formulating
their own hypotheses and null hypotheses. It then asks participants to design
a field excursion based on this method.
- Divide participants into small groups and ask to discuss how well
the sample field trip follows the process outlined in Activity 4.
- Provide each group with a copy of Resource 4A
and Resource 4B. Ask groups
to read through Resource 4A and complete the hypothesis and null
- Ask groups for a consensus on whether they rejected or accepted the
null hypothesis. What did this do for the original generalisation stated
in the background information?
- Provide each group with Resource 4B
and encourage discussion of the four dot points on this sheet.
- Allow groups 10-20 minutes to design their own field excursion.
- Summarise the activity by having groups present their field excursions
to the rest of the participants.
6. Where to Now with Science?
- The purpose of this activity is to summarise the workshop and review
the application of "Working Scientifically" into classroom practice
- Ask participants to think back to the teaching unit brainstormed in
Activity 1 and to compare the
unit with the sample activities and field trips in Activity 4
and Activity 5.
- Using a third coloured pen highlight those statements still not covered
in the document "Working Scientifically".
- Discuss the similarities and differences, while also encouraging a
discussion of common teaching practices. e.g. Is it difficult to teach
with the "Working Scientifically" process? Where are the difficulties?
Where do you see advantages and disadvantages in using this method?
What are the limitations?
- Consider the list of advantages of teaching through "Working Scientifically"
in OHT 8. How useful is this process to
our students and our teaching practice?
- Now ask participants to re-examine Resource 1.
Ask them to see if any steps in "Working Scientifically" are missing
from the examples in this module. They will note that they process of
'Using Science' and 'Acting Responsibly' are missing.
- Conduct a discussion of the ways 'Using Science And 'Acting Responsibly'
could be incorporated into the field trip planned in Activity 5.
- Conclude the workshop by stating that although we have used mangrove
environments as an example this method can be used to investigate any
coastal and marine environment.