This issue of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal contains several articles that focus on community partnerships and the educational benefits that arise for all participants.
Naomi Delaloye (University of Montana) and her co-authors describe a science education outreach program for middle and high school students that focuses on outdoor and indoor air pollutants. This theme provides an opportunity for teachers and students to engage in authentic, inquiry-based scientific investigations throughout the school year. Lesson plans are integrated into the school curriculum and aligned with local and national standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards.
Colleen Lopez( California State University, San Marcos) and her co-authors provide an account of a service learning project that enriches the science curriculum for local K-5 students. Teams of STEM majors at the university participated in a carefully structured curriculum development program, followed by a presentation of their lesson in a K-5 classroom. Over three years, this large-scale outreach initiative has transformed the scientific knowledge and attitudes of elementary school students.
Martha Merson (Technical Education Research Centers) and her co-authors describe the Statistics for Action project, which aims to provide the public with intelligible quantitative information about environmental hazards. Participants developed effective strategies for communicating numerical data in a way that could be understood and discussed by members of the community.
Jenny Dauer and Cory Forbes (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) examine how students make decisions about complex issues with both a scientific and social dimension called “socioscientific issues.” The authors use these issues as a framework for developing students’ scientific literacy in a large-enrollment course of approximately 500 students each year. Their project report shows how the course design prompts students to shift their thinking from absolutist opinions to more nuanced reasoning based on scientific evidence.
Nasrin Mirsaleh-Kohan and Cynthia Maguire (Texas Woman’s University) describe how using a photo-book in their classes enables students to make connections between scientific concepts and their real-world experiences. In addition to submitting their own photographs, students wrote reflective commentaries on contributions from other members of the class. This teaching strategy has been implemented in several courses, and can be easily adjusted to accommodate classes of various sizes.
Kenneth M. Voglesonger (Northeastern Illinois University) and his coauthors created Muddy Waters, a first-year experience in an urban university that connects students to local environmental geology. The project-based curriculum enables students to collect authentic scientific data and examine the geological factors that affect drinking water supplies and flooding risk. The course also provides students with skills that enhance their academic success, such as time management and collaborative learning.
We wish to thank all the authors for sharing their engaging work with the readers of this journal.
— Trace Jordan and Eliza Reilly, Co-Editors-in-Chief
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Photographs to link to articles by Drs. Mirsaleh-Kohan and Voglesonger et al were provided by the authors. Photographs to link to articles by Dr. Dauer et al and Dr. Lopez et al are from iStockphoto. The photograph of the air polluted keys view is from Joshua Tree National Park/NPS/Robb Hannawacker, and the photo of the strawberry field is from the Orange County Archives; both are used under the Creative Commons license.