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The Middle Grades Earth and Space Science Education Partnership
The Middle Grades Earth and Space Science Education partnership involves faculty members from Geosciences, Astronomy and Education, and targets ESS in grades 4 through 9. Teacher professional development activities concentrate on building deep conceptual understanding of big ideas in ESS in four topic areas: energy production, climate change, plate tectonics, and solar system astronomy.

The goals of the partnership are to: 1) contribute to the understanding of conceptual development in ESS through the middle grades, 2) develop and support current teachers across Pennsylvania to engage students with the significant and complex questions of ESS fields, 3) strengthen the science content preparation of pre-service teachers to deepen their understanding of ESS, and 4) institutionalize improved communication and collaboration in teaching and learning among colleges and campuses of Penn State, in underserved urban and rural school districts, and across the partnership.

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Project Contributions

Assessing Student Progress Along a Solar System Learning Progression
"In our experience with middle school classrooms, astronomy is often taught as a set of shallow, disconnected facts. As a way of addressing this, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS…
Development of a Learning Progression for the Formation of the Solar System
"This study describes the process of defining a hypothetical learning progression for astronomy around the big idea of Solar System formation. At the most sophisticated level, students can explain how…
Planetary Properties: A Systems Perspective
With support from the National Science Foundation, the Earth and Space Science Partnership (ESSP) was established to develop a collaborative relationship among scientists, education researchers, middle school teachers, and high…
Midlife Reflections on Success and Change: The Pennsylvania Earth and Space Partnership
"The Earth and Space Science Partnership is at the midpoint of our 5-year funding cycle In this presentation we reflect on the successes and challenges - anticipated and unforeseen -…
Foundations of Science
Posted by: Susan Lauver. "An expert in teacher professional development, Professor Tanya Furman is working with collaborators to forge innovative approaches to communicate Earth and Space Science to middle grade students."…
The Earth Scientist
Posted by: Susan Lauver. This is a special issue of The Earth Scientist sponsored by the Earth & Space Science Partnership. The included articles reflect the enthusiasm, hard work and success of the teachers…
Development of a Learning Progression for the Formation of the Solar System
"This study describes the process of defining a hypothetical learning progression for astronomy around the big idea of Solar System formation . At the most sophisticated level of the learning…
Teaching Team More Than Sum of its Parts
Posted by: Susan Lauver. This article highlights the Earth & Space Science Partnership's Teacher Leader, Theresa Lewis-King and the collaborative work she and math teacher Rebecca Haldeman-Newschaffer are carrying out in their school.
Middle School Earth Science Teachers Discover New Teaching Methods at Brandywine
Posted by: Susan Lauver. This article features the inaugural meeting of the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA), an organization founded by the Earth & Space Science Partnership at Penn State University
Refining Learning Progressions in Astronomy and Plate Tectonics
Posted by: Scott McDonald. Our project seeks to improve the quality of instruction and student learning in Earth and Space science (ESS). Our approach involves professional development that tightly integrates formative assessment, curriculum development…
Developing Learning Progressions in Earth and Space Science as a Tool for Teacher Professional Development and Student Learning
To improve the quality of instruction and student learning in Earth and Space science we must have professional development that tightly integrates assessment (broadly construed), curriculum development and pedagogical improvement.…