What is Classroom BATS?
Classroom BATS links BATS scientists and data at BBSR with prospective science teachers in the College of Education at Florida International University. This link is mediated via a virtual campus run by the College of Exploration. The goal of Classroom BATS is to create an on-line learning environment that allows science teachers to use real ocean data to conduct inquiry-based learning in their grade 6-12 classrooms. The lesson plans created by Classroom BATS partners will be shared with teachers everywhere.
Classroom BATS is being constructed to provide teachers with a means to supplement traditional textbook-based science teaching with a more inquiry-based approach. Classroom BATS provides an on-line learning environment in which teachers and students can practice science in authentic and engaging ways. It provides ready electronic access to the stream of oceanographic data collected and analyzed by BATS scientists, and thus allows learners to become participants in the scientific community that uses the BATS data in their research.
The Classroom BATS designers envision that teachers will use the data, hyperlinks, and software tools now available and planned for these web pages to bring inquiry-based science learning to their classrooms.
Our ultimate intent is that the pre-and in-service science teachers involved in the Classroom BATS pilot project will develop lesson plans based on analysis of the BATS data. The in-service teachers will test these lesson plans in their classrooms, while the pre-service teachers will test them in front of an audience of their peers during the "micro-teaches" that are a required part of their science education curriculum. Faculty at FIU will review and edit the lesson plans to insure pedagogical merit. BBSR scientists will review and edit the lesson plans to insure content accuracy.
Once reviewed and edited, the lesson plans will be made accessible to teachers everywhere via the on-line lesson-plan data base on these web pages. Once the pilot project is completed, the Classroom BATS web site will shift into an operational phase, during which time it will be open to the educational community for additional submissions of new or revised lesson plans.
In the National Science Education Standards, the National Research Council states that "Learning science is something students do, not something that is done to them. In learning science, students describe objects and events, ask questions, acquire knowledge, construct explanations of natural phenomena, test those explanations in many different ways, and communicate their ideas to others... Science teaching must involve students in inquiry-oriented investigations in which they interact with their teachers and peers."
Our long-term goal in Classroom BATS is to provide teachers with an on-line environment that gives them the resources and tools they need to conduct these types of inquiry-based oceanographic investigations in their classrooms.
In further describing inquiry-based learning, the National Science Education Standards state that students must "establish connections between their current knowledge of science and the scientific knowledge found in many sources; apply science content to new questions; engage in problem solving, planning, decision making, and group discussions; and experience assessments that are consistent with an active approach to learning."
We are designing the individual on-line components of Classroom BATS to help science learners perform these types of tasks.
For instance, group discussions are encouraged by the conference rooms that are available to Classroom BATS teachers via the College of Exploration's virtual campus. The Classroom BATS Ocean Explorer provides additional tools to promote inquiry-based learning. These tools help teachers test their students' current knowledge of science (and thus to identify and remedy any misconceptions), aid the conduct of science (problem solving, planning, decision making), and facilitate authentic assessment.