Exploring Science Content:
Science Resources for Students and Teachers

The original proposal for this project was partially funded. The deliverables from the University of Florida and the University of South Florida were renegotiated to reflect the reduced funding rate. This website tracks the progress of the revised deliverables.

I. Deliverables from UF

A. Online Science Education Modules

Deliverable: The University will develop at least 4 online science education modules for teachers entitled "Exploring Science Content: Digital Strategies for Science Teaching and Learning." The modules will enable teachers to use researched-based online science education modules focused on innovative best practices related to teaching and learning science. The University will revise the modules based on feedback from the County Science Coaches and disseminate them statewide via the Florida Center for Instructional Technology's website, a repository of award-winning resources that receives over 200 million hits per year. Florida teachers will also have the option to complete the modules for graduate level credit.

Current Status: Completed.

Icon of a treet and its roots Module 1: Bioremediation This module provides resources and information to support the teaching of bioremediation - the utilization of organisms such as plants and microbes to clean up environmental contaminants. Resources include (i) an explanation of the science behind bioremediation, told by a specialist in the field, Dr. Sabrina Powell; (ii) hands-on lessons to engage students in learning about the topic; and (iii) FCAT passages and practice items to support student confidence in standardized testing about scientific topics. Bioremediation is an important area of scientific research in Florida because of the pervasive need for effective mechanisms to resolve soil and water pollution. Images from the FCIT support student understanding of how this topic is relevant to students in their state and community.
Icon of a treet and its roots Module 2: Coastal Dynamics This module provides resources and information to support the teaching of physical and earth science concepts related to coastal systems. The focus of the materials is on natural forces that change beaches and other coastal areas. These forces include normal tidal action as well as storms. Resources include (i) an explanation of the science behind coastal dynamics, told by specialists in the field, Dr. Corene Matyas (Geography), Dr. Pete Adams (Coastal Geology), and Dr. Arnoldo Valle-Levinson (Coastal Engineering); (ii) hands-on lessons to engage students in learning about the topic; and (iii) FCAT passages and practice items to support student confidence in standardized testing about scientific topics. Coastal dynamics is an important area of scientific research in Florida because of the benefits provided by this fragile zone. Digital resources from the FCIT support student understanding of the relevance of this topic in their state and communities.
Icon of a treet and its roots Module 3: Atoms, Elements, and Molecules This module provides resources and information to support the teaching of chemistry. This fundamental science is at the center of all life sciences. Interactive content addresses topics in the areas of atomic theory, chemical compounds, stoichiometry, and chemical periodicity. Digital resources help students to understand the relevance of chemistry to their everyday lives. The introductory video for this module features graduate student Sarah Stefan, who works in Physical Chemistry.
Exploring Florida Icon Module 4: Using Exploring Florida in the Science Classroom This module provides examples of ways teachers in grades 6-12 science classes can bring the digital resources from Exploring Florida into the hands of students in classroom activities that support the science standards. Resources include a range of activity ideas, each of which addresses one or more science standards and which makes use of one or more digital resources in a student-centered approach.

B. Coordinate "Exploring Science Content" Advisory Board

Deliverable: The university will coordinate the "Exploring Science Content" Advisory Council. This Council will be responsible for overseeing the development of online science education modules for teachers entitled "Exploring Science Content: Digital Strategies for Science Teaching and Learning" that will enable teachers to use researched-based online science education modules focused on innovative best practices related to teaching and learning science. The Advisory Council may include, but will not be limited to, STEM faculty, science educators and educational technologist from the University of Florida and the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at the University of South Florida and teachers from Union County.

Current Status: Completed. The Advisory Board was formed and functioned as planned.

C. Liaison with Union County Science Coaches

Deliverable: The University will liaison with the Union County Science Specialist.

Current Status: Completed. The University regularly consulted with the Union County Science Specialist.

I. Deliverables from USF

A. Maps

Deliverable: The project will support digitizing, metatagging, and posting 1,500 Florida maps to support science teaching and learning. Each map will be available as a JPEG or GIF file for viewing and as a PDF for high-quality printing. Maps with sufficient detail will also be available in a "Zoomified" version that allows students to zoom in and out and move around the map to examine selected areas in detail. The maps will include the following categories: USGS topographic, nautical, groundwater, coastal zone management, water management, and Florida Geological Surveys.

Current Status: Completed. The maps have been posted at http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/maps/index.htm. As additional features we also added Flash-based jigsaw puzzles to many of the maps created for this project and included kmz files to open the maps in Google Earth as overlays.

B. Virtual Reality

Deliverable: Developers will create virtual reality tours of at least 8 environmentally and scientifically significant areas in Florida. Each tour will consist of multiple VR movies that allow students to pan around the environment and zoom in to examine details. Example locations will include springs, rivers, coastal areas, the Everglades, lakes, highlands, and hammocks. Other types of destinations of scientific interest may also be included as recommended by participating science teachers from Union County.

Current Status: Completed. The VRs are available at http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/vr/vr.htm.

C. Photographs

Deliverable: Teachers and developers will capture and post with sufficient metadata (including lat/lon) at least 750 photographs of the Florida environment and science facilities. The photos will include a variety of landforms, ecosystems, and plants and animals.

Current Status: Completed. The photographs are available at http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/photos/photos.htm.

D. Clipart illustrations

Deliverable: Developers will digitize, metatag, and post a minimum of 750 line drawings to support science instruction. The illustrations will include Florida flora and fauna as well as illustrations of geologic structures, weather phenomena, and scientific instruments. Some of the illustrations may be repurposed from existing FCIT websites.

Current Status: Completed. The illustrations are available on FCIT's Clipart, ETC website, in particular within the following galleries:

E. Documents and data sets

Deliverable: We will post a minimum of 25 primary source documents and data sets for student use. The documents will include such items as diaries of early Florida naturalists, nineteenth century plans to radically alter the Florida environment, reports on agricultural experiments, and other primary source documents allowing for student practice in critical reading in the content area. The data sets will include such information as temperature variations from year to year or from month to month, tides, agricultural production, rainfall, storm frequency, and mining production.

Current Status: Completed. The documents are available at http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/docs/docs.htm.

F. Additional digital assets

Deliverable: Upon recommendation of subject matter experts, additional digital assets may be added to the list of deliverables above to support specific areas of the online Science professional development modules and/or to reflect advances in technology during the project period.

Current Status: No large additions of content were recommended. FCIT staff added a few additional assets such as stereoviews of the Devil's Millhopper sinkhole.

III. Public Comment

Members of the public may comment on the progress of this grant project via email. (Please do not edit the subject of the email—this will ensure that your communication is not blocked by spam filters.) Comments received will be shared with appropriate members of the development team and may be published. Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact the project development team in writing at: Exploring Science Content Project, FCIT, 4202 E Fowler Ave EDU162, Tampa, FL 33620.