Nevada Earth/Space Science Initiative (NESSI)

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DEES Fritsen, Christian H 03/15/2011 - 08/31/2012 University of Nevada, Reno

Project Description

The Nevada Earth/Space Science Initiative (NESSI) is a program designed to enhance the conceptual and activity-related Earth and space science understandings of 4th 10th grade teachers throughout Nevada. Specific goals of the program are to:

a) to provide a solid understanding of Earth and space science content knowledge;

b) instill in participants a sense of confidence about their ability to learn and teach basic Earth and space science content in a hands-on inquiry-based manner;

c) make participants competent users of the National Science Education Standards (NSES), the Nevada Science Education Standards, and have participants achieve mastery of Earth / space science (and related) K-12 content as based upon the standards;

d) foster professional growth, including presentation of content and methodology to peers in school, local, state, and national settings;

e) make participants aware of the relationship between Earth and space science with related technology and content in the school, university, community, and industry;

f) nurture the sense of community and collaboration among participants that is possible with an intensive, long-term program.

The Nevada Earth / Space Science Initiative (NESSI) is a cooperative effort between the University of Nevada, Reno, College of Education; College of Science (Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering and Physics Department), Desert Research Institute (DRI), Nevada Space Grant Consortium, Washoe County School District (WCSD) and the Northwest Regional Professional Development Program (NWRPDP) (Washoe, Pershing and Storey Counties). Additional partners in the initiative include the Nevada Mining Association (Minerals Education Committee), Newmont Mining Corporation, and Barrick Gold Corporation.

The summer institutes will include content in the area of Earth's composition: rocks and minerals, rock cycle, fossil formation, land forms, plate tectonics, geological time scale, global positioning, volcanoes, water cycle, weather and weathering, and space science including the sun, solar energy, solar system, cosmos, and exploration of potential life in space. The institutes that are being proposed demonstrate ongoing collaborations with faculty to promote content professional development for teachers. The faculty has successfully worked together on this initiative for the past three years and is improving those relationships while adding new relationships each year of the program. An example is the addition of the Nevada Space Grant Consortium and the Fleischmann Planetarium The Nevada Earth Space Science Initiative (NESSI) has completed three years of successful implementation with 106 participants (82 level I and 24 Level II) teaching K-10th grade in both public/charter and private schools in Northern Nevada and more than 5367 students have benefitted from science instruction by NESSI participants. Participants have come from seven counties in Nevada: Washoe, Storey, Pershing, Douglas, Carson, Lyon, and Churchill.

The Nevada Earth/Space Science Initiative will have two components, an intensive summer workshop for three graduate credits consisting of five days intensive workshop held on campus in the form of labs, hands-on investigations, lectures, and five days of field instruction and observation in Earth and space science phenomena in greater Nevada. An additional graduate credit will be given throughout the fall / spring term for participants to meet for an additional five days for follow-up content activities and collection of student learning data. This will be the same for NESSI level II with the exception of the level of content for the five days of intensive hands-on labs and field experiences.