Designing Geospatial Exploration Activities To Build Hydrology Understanding In Middle School Students


Yarnall, L., Vahey, P. and Swan, K. (2014). Designing Geospatial Exploration Activities to Build Hydrology Understanding in Middle School Students. Teaching Science and Investigating Environmental Issues with Geospatial Technology: Designing Effective Professional Development for Teachers.


In the “Thinking with Data” unit, seventh-grade students used real-world data to learn core concepts and topics in four subjects. This chapter focuses on using geospatial maps in science. We designed activities that gave students map-based data relevant to the water cycle processes of evaporation, condensation, runoff, and infiltration. We wanted students to generate informal and causal explanations about the water cycle’s role in water distribution and salt pollution. In designing map activities, researchers applied the Preparation for Future Learning (PFL) framework in the use of layered and parallel data representations. Students used both everyday knowledge and scientific knowledge fragments in their investigations. While students actively engaged with the materials and increased their data literacy, opportunities for increased content knowledge were not fully exploited since the teacher did not link the students’ reasoning to water cycle concepts. We discuss implications for materials design in light of teacher professional development.

Keywords: Water cycle, Preparation for future learning framework, Curriculum design, Data literacy.

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