TOTOS SEEP Grant EE/ESE Program Descriptions

Sustainability and Environmental Education for Pre-Service (SEEP)

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Name(s) of instructor(s)

Judith Morrison

Name of university

Washington State University TriCities

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

Elementary and middle school (K-8)

University course number

T&L 371

University course title

Teaching Elementary Science

University course catalogue description

Teaching methods, materials, and content in elementary and middle school science


(big ideas are fine)

To introduce preservice teachers to strategies they can use to teach elementary and middle school students about field studies, environmental science, and sustainability. Also, to increase the preservice teachers’ awareness of the need to teach these concepts to students and to increase their confidence to include these ideas in their science teaching.

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

(This is the main, detailed description)

  1. The preservice teachers were introduced to field studies using the PEI materials. They learned about descriptive, comparative, and correlation field investigation studies and then after spending time outside generated a number of these questions that could potentially be used to conduct a study. They then analyzed the questions and wrote up the investigation although we did not have time to carry them out.
  2. During other classes, the preservice teachers did the PLT activities: Are Vacant Lots Vacant? and Field, Forest, and Stream. The preservice teachers did the activities and then analyzed and critiqued their use in elementary and middle school classrooms.
  3. Using a “pillbug” activity, the preservice teachers learned about environmental factors and the needs of organisms. They designed an inquiry activity and then discussed how the activity could be used to teach students about the environment and how humans impact an organism’s environment.
  4. One class was used to introduce preservice teachers to the idea of sustainability: how it is defined, how it might be presented to students, and how the preservice teachers need to be prepared to teach these concepts (Standard 5.3.D). After discussion on how education for sustainability needs to encompass environmental, economic, and social factors and engage students in large scale problem solving, the preservice teachers worked in groups to design a potential sustainable design project that they could use in their future classrooms.

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

Field Studies/PLT activities: thermometers, meter sticks, notebooks, data loggers

Sustainability: Sustainable Design Project Teacher Manual from OSPI

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


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

Describe the setting.


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


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


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

The preservice teachers were graded on their participation and the work they produced in each of the activities. The main evaluation tool was their science notebooks which contained most of the work they did outside and in the classroom. The preservice teachers also wrote formal reflection papers on the activities and designed a field study investigation. The feedback I received from them was generally that they wanted to include these ideas in their future teaching and appreciated the introduction to the activities but still felt unprepared and not very confident about doing these with their students.


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

The same type of activities and class work would be necessary but certainly more time would be spent so that preservice teachers would gain confidence to teach these concepts. It would also be beneficial to have a single course that allowed the teachers to learn how to incorporate projects across many areas (science, math, language arts, and social studies) into their teaching.

Thank you!