Drought in the Critical Zone: Engaging students in authentic inquiry through Data Jam

January 1, 2016


Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Noelia Báez Rodríguez

Luquillo LTER Schoolyard

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math require significant shifts in how science is taught in schools. A core teaching strategy of the new standards is engaging students in authentic scientific investigations. Students should be asking their own questions and analyzing data to address that question. However, teachers find it challenging to support students in using data as evidence, since it is a statistical process that is largely ignored in schools. In addition, it can be challenging to find approachable datasets for a wide range of Earth science topics.

In this article, we describe a pilot effort by the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory (LCZO) to address these challenges by integrating LCZO datasets and a successful teaching strategy called a Data Jam, which was developed at the Asombro Institute for Science Education. The essence of the Data Jam model is to support students in the process of exploring, analyzing, and summarizing long-term data about the environment and then creatively communicating what they discover to non-scientific audiences. To support implementation of Data Jam, we conducted a teacher workshop in fall 2015. Teachers then implemented the Data Jam with their students in the second semester and selected one Data Jam project to submit to the LCZO. Those students were invited to present their findings at the eighth annual Long-Term Ecological Research Schoolyard Symposium at the University of Puerto Rico in May 2016.


Research Areas


Suggested Citation

McGee, S. & Rodriguez, N. B. (2016). Drought in the Critical Zone: Engaging students in authentic inquiry through Data Jam. The Earth Scientist, 32(3), 19-21.

Add your information to our mailing list for updates about what’s new at The Learning Partnership.