Students will start by taking a pre-project survey, this is anonymous and has no impact on the student.
Then students will be informed about the nature of science and the practice of science from their teacher or project member. The Habitat Tracker website will be introduced and the students will be able to use the Habitat Tracker website in order to access multimedia content about the wildlife exhibits they will see at the museum; learn how to create their own journals and what constitutes a good journal entry; and read select journals entries from students who have already visited the museum and enter their own comments.The student will also be introduced and informed on how to use the iPad on the museum.
As part of this process, teachers will lead students in a discussion of scientific questioning, and as students review the data from the website, small groups will be asked to compose their own sets of questions for investigation at the museum, review the data already available to address those questions, and plan how they will collect their own data while at the museum.
Upon arriving at the Tallahassee Museum, students working in pre-determined small groups will receive a Habitat Tracker digital journal for use during their visit,the iPad introduced in class the day before.
Project researchers and museum personnel will provide a brief orientation explaining the use of the Journal to the students, who will be asked to complete a short login process. Museum staff and project team members will be available throughout the museum to help answer questions, and an interactive, online help system will be integrated into the Journal.
As they explore the museum’s habitats, students will be able to use their Journals to access an interactive map of the museum, indicating their current location as well as the current status of the wildlife habitats in the museum. At each habitat, they will be able to use their Journals to access multimedia information about the museum’s wildlife, including expert commentary from the museum’s curators as well as the latest observations entered by other museum students.
As they walk the wildlife trail, students will be able to create journal entries in which they can record their own personal observations of wildlife activity linked to their current location.
Returning to the Habitat Tracker website back in the classroom, students will be able to submit questions to curators and invited experts about their wildlife observations; communicate with other students for purposes of obtaining data or testing ideas and explanations; join discussions and form animal interest groups with students at other schools; and respond to comments about their journal entries from students, teachers, and others involved with Habitat Tracker.
There will be student-led analysis of data gathered at the museum to determine answers to their scientific inquiries. Peer discussions and consultations with experts will help generate scientific inferences and explanations. Students will be encouraged to construct scientific arguments about the content encountered and communicate how scientific inquiry is done consistent with the Nature of Science benchmarks.
At same time, teachers will be able to read, comment, and provide feedback on student journal entries; suggest peers, experts, and/or links for students to refer to; share ideas with teachers in other schools; and provide feedback for the museum educators about the visit experience.