107474 Translating Cutting Edge Soil Research into Curriculum for the K-12 Classroom- Focus on the Impacts of Forest Fire on Soil Processes.
Poster Number 1211
Monday, October 23, 2017
Tampa Convention Center, East Exhibit Hall
One of the challenges of communicating scientific research in a K-12 setting is finding ways to break down complex findings in a meaningful way to enhance student learning. With the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards in California, students are being asked to “think” like scientists and explain their findings in a much more robust way than in years prior. Teachers are in need of real world examples with access to data to help their students in this transition. Working with the Soil Biogeochemistry laboratory at the University of California, Merced (http://aaberhe.com), we developed a workshop for high school agriculture chemistry teachers throughout the state about how fire influences soil processes. We created four hands-on activities (soil color, pH, hydrophobicity, and landscape) that scaffold teacher knowledge and a capstone fieldtrip to a study site to assess how much they learned. We found that teachers had limited knowledge of how fire can impact soil processes and how fire is used in both agricultural (developing countries) and forest settings. One of the key takeaways for teachers was how the intensity and duration of fire can dramatically change soil chemical properties in both the short and long term. We presented multiple ways for teachers to bring this knowledge into their high school classrooms, by allowing teachers (or students) to predict the impacts of different patches of wildfire severity on the soil chemistry. This approach allows K-12 students and teachers to explore complex topics with scientific data and methodologies.