TOTOS SEEP Grant EE/ESE Program Descriptions

Sustainability and Environmental Education for Pre-Service (SEEP)

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Name(s) of instructor(s)

Ian Quitadamo

Name of university

Central Washington University

Level of preparation for the program being described: elementary, middle school, high school (or combination)


University course number

SCED 301

University course title

Interdisciplinary Science Inquiry

University course catalogue description

Students will use concepts from biology, chemistry, earth science and physics to actively investigate the world and learn specific science processes.

Objectives of this specific EE-ESE project

(big ideas are fine)

Objective 1: Identify and engage science preconceptions and construct new interdisciplinary knowledge 

  • Standards addressed: NSES‐A, C; CTL 1.1, 1.3

Objective 2: Experience integrated inquiry science and develop science knowledge, skills, and values 

  • Standards addressed: NSES‐A, E; CTL 1.2

Objective 3: Design and conduct research that increases content knowledge and investigative skill

  • Standards addressed: NSES‐A, D, E; CTL 1.2

Objective 4: Approach authentic science problems from multiple perspectives

  • Standards addressed: NSES‐C, E; CTL 1.4, 1.5

Objective 5: Collaborate with community stakeholders to address pressing global concerns

  • Standards addressed: NSES‐C, E; CTL 1.3, 1.4

Description of the experience(s) the pre-service teachers had to learn EE-ESE strategies

(This is the main, detailed description. Please include enough detail so someone else will know what you did.)

Students investigated environmental problems affecting global sustainability, specifically focusing on alternative energy and sustainability. Students researched energy topics and debated pros and cons of potential solutions from scientific, economic, religious, and moral/ethical perspectives. With this background and broadened thinking, students worked in small teams to scientifically investigate potential alternative energy/sustainability solutions by conducting in-class research on solar, wind, and biodiesel topics. Activities included building electrical circuits, comparing polycrystalline and thin-film solar via testing across campus, and designing/fabricating wind turbines and testing for electrical output. Quarter-long independent research projects were also conducted using an experimental hypothetico-driven process focused on testing feasible solutions to environmental problems. For example, some students reverse engineered a windbelt electricity generator, while others built and tested tidal generators. Others built scale models of homes and tested different flooring and insulation materials for cost/benefit and sustainability. Worked with community stakeholders including Puget Sound Energy, City of Ellensburg, others including sustainability coordinator for CWU. Held a public alternative energy/sustainability research symposium with guests from the Northwest Eco-builders Guild, City of Ellensburg, community enthusiasts, upper CWU administration, others.

Materials/equipment needed for the pre-service teacher experience (include technology that may have been used)

Used any materials available to conduct research. Many projects used parts recycled from other items, including bicycle gears, construction site waste, and donated components. Students used mathematics and measurement technology (calculator probes, sound meters, multimeters, etc) to determine merits of each tested solution.

Were preK-12 children involved? (Yes or no). If yes, describe their involvement and ages.

No children were involved directly in this work. The intent of this course was to develop teacher candidate content knowledge, investigative skill, critical thinking, and problem solving using alternative energy and sustainability as an integrating context.

Was this an indoor or outdoor project (or both)?

Describe the setting.

Both indoor (class-based investigations, research symposium, etc) and outdoor (field trips to solar park, wind farm, solar testing on CWU campus, etc) activities were conducted.

Were other subject area professors involved? Yes or no. If yes, what subjects were integrated? How?

Professors from chemistry, physics, biology, and some earth science/geology were involved to a greater or lesser extent, depending on depth of student projects.

Were there community/ agency/institution partners? Yes or no. If yes, how was the partnership structured?

A number of community stakeholders were involved. Puget Sound Energy provided some of the wind investigation kits that were used, hosted the wind farm field trip and attended the CWU research symposium. The City of Ellensburg hosted the solar park field trip and attended the symposium, as did a number of other community stakeholders.

How was the program evaluated? What did the pre-service teachers have to say?

The program receives very strong support from students. Students almost uniformly indicate that the course is very rigorous, highly relevant, and a ideal mechanism to develop critical thinking and problem solving. Focus on community/environment/sustainability issues is a major draw.


If another grant was written to support your EE-ESE work, what types of things would you hope to accomplish?

Thank you!