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Hydrogeology: Learning by discovery in an urban environment

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Overview:
Students learn about the cycling of nutrients, origin of water quality, and the impacts of land use and urbanization on hydrologic systems as they closely examine the data collected and re-evaluate prior hypotheses.

Author/Source:
On the Cutting Edge

Grade:
College

Discipline:
Earth science

Time:
Quarter-long project

Teaching tips:
This is an example of a “student-driven, instructor-guided field experiments on a budget. Schools that cater to under-represented students are often those with limited resources, however, student-driven discovery in the field is an effective tool for engaging students in the natural environment and in hydrogeology.” Effective strategies for addressing the special needs of urban students are included.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Science works only with testable ideas.

  • Scientists strive to test their ideas with evidence from the natural world; a hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

  • Because it has been tested, scientific knowledge is reliable.

  • Science is ongoing; answering one scientific question frequently leads to additional questions to be investigated.

  • The process of science involves observation, exploration, testing, communication, and application.

  • Scientists test their ideas (hypotheses and theories) by figuring out what expectations are generated by an idea and making observations to find out whether those expectations are borne out.

  • Raw data must be analyzed and interpreted before we can tell whether a scientific idea is likely to be accurate or inaccurate.

  • Analysis of data usually involves putting data into a more easily accessible format (visualization, tabulation, or quantification of qualitative data).

  • Hypotheses are proposed explanations for a narrow set of phenomena.

  • Hypotheses are usually inspired and informed by previous research and/or observations. They are not guesses.

  • Science depends on communication within the scientific community.

  • Scientists usually work collaboratively.

  • Science relies on the accumulated knowledge of the scientific community to move forward.

  • Advances in science often drive technological innovations, which may, in turn, contribute to new scientific discoveries.

  • Scientific knowledge helps us make decisions that affect our lives every day.

  • Scientific knowledge informs public policies and regulations that promote our health, safety, and environmental stewardship.

Teacher background:

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