Science learning goes geospatial with GeoSciTeach!
GeoSciTeach is a teacher toolkit for integrating geospatial concepts into science learning. It is designed to be used by PCGE science tutors, pre-service science teachers, qualified science teachers and other science educators, and provides a comprehensive guide and step-by-step instructions for teachers and educators. It:
- Explains what geospatial skills are, why they matter, and their place in science teaching and learning;
- Outlines the GeoSciTeach app: a customisable, easy to use, mobile smartphone application that enables science teachers to take a geospatial approach to designing a range of learning activities;
- Provides a pictorial ‘walkthrough’ showing easy-to-follow steps for designing an activity with GeoSciTeacher, and how each of the features can be used by students during a learning activity to foster geospatial thinking in science;
- Describes examples of the app in use at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew through two vignettes illustrating how science can ‘go’ geospatial;
- Presents comments from teachers and students of their own views of the app;
- Outlines some alternative science contexts where the app can be used;
- Provides a framework, indicating ways in which geospatial learning can be integrated into the secondary school science curriculum.
Download the application here:
Download as a .pdf (link to pdf)
Read how GeoSciTeach was used in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew!
As part of their training, pre-service science teachers take groups of students on a fieldwork trip to The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. They plan a series of activities that focus on diversity of plant material available at Kew. Using GeoSciTeach Jack, a pre-service teacher, designed a task around the question ‘How and why do humans use plants?’: specifically how do people use plants to make money. Students worked in small groups to research bananas or coffee: two plants in the greenhouse that are grown commercially and are marketed globally. Students presented their findings to one another prompting a discussion of the ‘best’ crop to grow.
Students used the activity designed by Jack on the smartphone to collect key information on their crop. They used the camera to take photographs of their crop in situ – its leaf, shape and size; Google to search for the different stages of the life of the plant, its flowers and fruit; links supplied by the teacher through QR codes, and YouTube videos embedded in the app. They were able to find out the official botanical name of the crop, its country of origin, the countries around the world where the crop is usually grown, climate information on these places, the process of growing and harvesting the crop, and the production of the final product. Links supplied by the teacher supported the students’ research by directing them to sources of information they may have been unaware of, such as global market sites on the cost per tonne of the crop, and statistical information on the distribution of the crop around the world, showing how the market price of products changes over time.
The students gave a short presentation arguing in favour of their crop, exploring which crop was best to grow: bananas or coffee. Discussion initially focused on the financial income of the crop, before turning to questions of expenditure and investment, transport, environmental issues, and the conditions of labourers. The app supported the students in connecting the plant in front of them within the UK with how the plant looks across its life cycle (i.e. temporally), across geographical locations, and across different commercial contexts – national and global markets. This enabled the plant to be placed imaginatively in a new context and to connect issues of geo-spatial awareness with inferences concerning climate, finance and global marketing.
This work was funded by JISC and undertaken at the London Knowledge Lab, as a collaboration between the Institute of Education and Birkbeck College London, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
These documents and information will be available on the London Knowledge Lab website and/or wordpress.com for at least another five years.