Session S10 (Sunday, 2pm, Thomas 117)

P61: Does authentic science inquiry in middle school impact college and career choice?

Andrea Harmer (Kutztown University/Lehigh University, USA)

In 2005 and 2006, the author designed and implemented a research study that introduced middle school students to an eighty-three year old environmental problem located at what is considered the largest Superfund site in the US at northeast Palmerton, PA. The Palmerton Superfund site is located approximately 25 minutes from the students’ school and provided an authentic context for the students’ environmental science inquiry, which included a chemical analysis of site samples. The research approach allowed the middle school students to remotely access a graduate level electron microscope to analyze pollution effects on soil and ground water at the Superfund site. Additionally, students investigated an emerging nanotechnology, using iron nanoparticles, to promote environmental remediation. The author is currently conducting a follow-up study with the same sixth grade students (now high school juniors and seniors) to determine the impact of the students’ environmental inquiry on their chosen college or career path.


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