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About Our Case Studies

"In academia today exploration, originality, creativity and discovery are particularly valued. You will not distinguish yourself in academia these days by merely knowing a whole lot of information - which is free on the internet. You distinguish yourself by being able to apply this knowledge to new contexts creatively and by uncovering knowledge gaps."

- Myron Dueck

All of us are intrinsically curious, and it has been our experience that young people in particular care deeply about the world in which they live. There is a nationwide trend to narrowly focus and sterilize the curriculum of core academic subject areas to prepare students for success on standardized exams. That doesn’t inspire students to learn or teachers to teach, and it doesn’t lead to long-term retention of knowledge and skills. Science Outside is a valiant effort to highlight how science is relevant to the world and student’s lives, and to give students opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they learn to real-world scenarios.

These case studies are designed to help students encounter and explore the ideas and develop the skills necessary for success in an Environmental Science course. They start by engaging students through connections with the animals, plants, and landscape students encounter in the outdoors. Each case study:

  • tells a compelling story

  • offers interesting knowledge to students that they can then share with their friends and family, building confidence and self-worth

  • asks interesting questions that challenge students to examine their preconceptions

  • is intertopical (ex: Ecology, Population, Land Use), inter-skill (ex: Math Skills, Scientific Writing) and interdisciplinary (ex: Science, Math, History, Language Arts)

  • endeavors to provide an optimistic and hopeful vision of the future

  • empowers students to:

*evaluate sources of information

*analyze visual representations of environmental concepts and processes

*analyze and interpret quantitative data represented in tables, charts, and graphs

*use mathematical skills to answer questions

*evaluate evidence

*explain environmental concepts and processes in written form

*propose and justify solutions to environmental challenges

  • attempts to teach the whole student and includes art to engage their spirit

  • is designed to serve as a framework that enables a teacher to guide a discussion rather than give a presentation, the hallmark of a remarkably effective educator

These case studies are not intended as worksheets to be simply handed out by teachers and completed by students. They are intended to prompt and support active and robust discussions between students in small groups and by whole classes of students facilitated by teachers. The higher goal is to inspire a sense of wonder about the world and cultivate a sense of adventure and exploration. With varying amounts of teacher support, these case studies can be used for all academic levels of high school environmental science teaching.

Our collection of case studies will continue to grow on a rolling basis, and each is a living document that can be revised at any time, so check back regularly for updates and please offer feedback so we can continually reflect upon and improve them. Science Outside is more than a website or a product. It is a vibrant Professional Learning Community.

We acknowledge all of the third-party content that has been included in these materials and respect the intellectual property rights of others. If we have incorrectly attributed or overlooked a source, please contact us and let us know and we will be happy to make corrections.

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