Learning About Our Planet Through GLOBE and the Natural Inquirer

Contributed by Zoe Tyler, Sara Ruettimann and Mallory Jones, students at SUNY Fredonia

We are three education students who go to SUNY Fredonia, and we are all ready to learn more about science education and the resources we can use to teach young students science in the classroom.

Investi-gator (Northern Research Station)

cover for the Natural Inquirer issue of Investi-gator (Northern Research Station)We learned about a science journal called Investi-gator (Northern Research Station) for elementary school students, part of the USDA Forest Service's Natural Inquirer series. The focus of the journal is on the environment. The research found in this issue is based on the northern United States and the data is conducted by Forest Service scientists.

There are four main topics in this issue including: why some leaves turn red during the fall season, how rising ozone levels affect tree growth in Wisconsin, protecting the environment through policies, and a closer look at soil activity in the wintertime. There are FACTivity activities at the end of each article that include data tables that allow the students to conduct their own science experiments. There are also reflection questions that will engage students in deep thinking.

To use this resource with students, the teacher would explain that this is real research conducted by scientists. The class will read articles that will give them a better understanding of the planet. Each activity and reflection section should be discussed in partners, and then have a few students share out if possible. They will read one article as a class, doing the FACTivity and reflection sections together. Then students would read the next article with a partner and do the activities. The last two articles would be assigned to read for homework. There will be a class activity the following day that will have the students thinking “About Science” and “About the Environment” (other sections in each article). The activity will be collaborative and end in discussion.

Elementary GLOBE

cover of the Elementary GLOBE storybook The Mystery of the Missing HummingbirdsThe Elementary GLOBE modules introduce science in many aspects through storybooks: science-based, fictional readings to help engage the younger audience. The modules help teachers expand their teaching about the world, having their students focus on data and observations. There are activities that will help students develop certain science skills. The GLOBE resources also contain a glossary and introduction for teachers to develop their own background knowledge, as well as a Teacher Implementation Guide that includes connecting the curriculum to literacy and how to start a science journal.

A module that we would use is the Seasons module, including the storybook “The Mystery of the Missing Hummingbirds” that discusses the changes within the seasons. This goes well with one topic from the Investi-gator about how leaves change due to elements of the seasons. We could also use the Climate and Soils modules to teach about the science that takes place in the world, such as trees being planted in Wisconsin and soil activity in the wintertime.

GLOBE and Investi-gator Connections

FACTivity for soil collection from the Investi-gator article "Snowed In? A Closer Look at Soil Activity in the Wintertime"
The GLOBE and the Investi-gator are resources with a few connections that we could use in a classroom setting. GLOBE has modules that involve fictional stories for younger students to read about the topic they are learning about. The Investi-gator has activities and reflection questions that could be used in one lesson all together. For example, if we had the students read about Soils with Elementary GLOBE, we could use one of the activities in the Investi-gator, called a FACTivity, that includes collecting soil from outside and using the chart to write down observations. The activities also include reflection questions after the activity. We could combine the story from GLOBE to the activities in the Investi-gator to create a full lesson plan.

GLOBE and NGSS Connections: Disciplinary Core Ideas

The Investi-gator works with The GLOBE Program to provide teachers with modules to teach students about science and the environment in their communities. The Northern Research Station Investi-gator is connected to three different modules: Climate, Soils, and the Seasons. Each of these modules align with multiple Next Generation Science Standards and other standards with other core school subjects and what students are expected to perform and what the disciplinary core ideas are, with the variety of activities being covered within the modules. Therefore, teachers can use these science modules for not only science, but also for ELA and Math as well.

NGSS Alignment for the Climate Module:

  • ESS2.C The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes

  • ESS2.D Weather and Climate

  • ESS3.A Natural Resources

  • ESS3.C Human Impacts on the Earth System

NGSS Alignment for Seasons Module:

  • LS1.A Structure and Function

  • LS1.C Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

  • LS2.C Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

  • LS4.D Biodiversity and Humans

NGSS Alignment for Soils Module:

  • ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems

  • LS1.C Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

Image captions (top to bottom):

  1. Cover of the Natural Inquirer issue Investi-gator (Northern Research Station)
  2. Cover of the Elementary GLOBE storybook "The Mystery of the Missing Hummingbirds"
  3. FACTivity for soil collection from the Investi-gator article "Snowed In? A Closer Look at Soil Activity in the Wintertime"

About the Authors

My name is Zoe Tyler and I am a Childhood Inclusive Education major with a concentration in social sciences at SUNY Fredonia. Science has always interested me, just not in a school setting. I like to be observant, collect data, and collaborate with peers on a subject. I have just never been a fan of being forced to do research on a topic that I am uninterested in. Thankfully, I was interested in learning more about the Northern Research Station research. Learning about what is happening to the planet that I live on has always intrigued me. To gain knowledge on leaves changing colors when I have always wondered why that happens is exciting. There are even questions that I had never thought about before such as how ozone affects tree growth.

My name is Sara Ruettimann. I am a Childhood Education major at SUNY Fredonia with a concentration in social sciences. I was very much into all subjects when I was in elementary school. I was especially interested in science as a child inside and outside of school. I had a curiosity for the unknown and why things were the way they were, why things were happening throughout the world, especially when it came to the environment. Learning more about the Northern Research Station can help me learn new things about the environment and fulfill my interest to learn about what research stations like this one do, as well as find out why leaves change color and how the ozone layer affects tree growth.

My name is Mallory Jones and I am an Early Childhood/Childhood Education major with a concentration in music. Growing up I was never really into science; however, I always had an interest in English and social studies. This was mainly because of the teachers I had growing up and their teaching techniques. However, I am excited to be a part of the science methods to learn how to be the best teacher. Not being the best at science, and not having the best relationship with it, is giving me the opportunity to make sure that the students in my future classroom don’t feel that way. I decided to choose the Northern Research Station Investi-gator research because it looked like something that would be new to me, meaning I would want to know more about the topic. I am hoping that my research will give me the tools of becoming a better investigator and communicator as I think those are important skills to have as a teacher.

Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by USDA Forest Service Eastern Region (Agreement no. 20-PA-11090100-026). Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USDA Forest Service.

This blog post is part of the GLOBE and the Natural Inquirer Crosswalk Project. Other blog posts are available on the U.S. GLOBE Teacher Resources page

Natural Inquirer issues can be downloaded and classroom sets of many issues can be ordered from their website. Find the complete list of issues available and instructions for ordering on the Natural Inquirer website

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