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A Letter to Teachers

Teachers,

I am excited about using the Water Quality modules in my Chem Tech classroom next fall. Traditionally, the textbook has been my major source of information for the students. I believe that this module will be a great way to get my students involved in integrating technology with science. In the spring of 1996 my students worked through a couple of the Exploring the Environment™ modules and the positive feedback from them was overwhelming. Many cited it as one of the most worthwhile science experiences they had had in high school. To quote from a couple of students who used the ETE modules, "..I actually looked forward to coming to class even though it was first period." "The modules are interesting and give even more variety to the class......I like the real life ideas. I like the computer."

A biology teacher and I hope to collaborate using the Water Quality Module. For some time we have tried to find a way to integrate the Stream Ecology unit in her class and the Chem Tech Water Quality unit in my class. This looks like a viable solution. It's already on-line and it is problem-based learning, something we both want to see in our classrooms. We are looking forward to teaming and getting our students to work together. We both believe that there is a need for students to make connections between the sciences and between science and community (real life) applications.

I have written several Chem Tech labs that will integrate nicely with this unit. I plan to introduce these to reinforce the concepts in the module. Labs on electrolytes, pH, water hardness and water properties parallel this module. The ChemCom text has a Foul Water Lab and a Water Testing Lab that will serve to connect text to module.

As part of the biology-chemistry collaboration we plan to have our students actually perform some of the tests conducted in the module. My students will work on the chemical and physical characteristics (pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, etc.) while the biology students will collect macroinvertebrate information. The classes can then share data and compare biological, chemical and physical characteristics of the stream.

The problem-based learning experiences that the modules offer my students involve issues that get them hooked. Students are doing research and becoming more scientifically literate.

I have students who are not science oriented and who do not intend to major in the science in college. Several are interested in film production, writing, art, etc.. I hope to have these students produce assessment products for the evaluation section of the modules that will allow them to use their artistic talents. Recently two students produced their own films to summarize what they had learned about an issue. Other students wrote plays to set up real life scenarios to explore problems. Two wrote children's books on the topics and took the books to the local elementary schools. I have many reasons for wanting to expand on this type of evaluation as an end-product in the water quality unit, but the major reason is the expression on the students' faces when they are proud of what they have accomplished.

Finally, I find that this Water Quality module and the other modules I have used have the potential to enhance some of the work I am trying to do in regards to integrating other disciplines, (e.g. history, math and English) into science. Sections of the module on Environmental History , data and graph analysis, and module writing elements have excellent potential applications for this interdisciplinary project.

One of my colleagues asked me why I like these modules and I told him to ask the students. They are the ones who realize the valuable worth of this type of learning situation and they are the first to tell you this.

Image of Kathy Conway and a caption that reads: Kathy Conway Morgantown High School Morgantown, WV.


email Kathy Conway

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Last updated November 10, 2004
   

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