The impacts of place based education in a middle school science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Place-Based Education is grounded in teaching and learning in the immediate environment, fostering students' connection to place, creating vibrant partnerships between schools and communities. Lesson plans are focused on local topics, and learning is focused on the natural settings around the school or community. Place-Based Education seeks to remedy the consequences of students having less exposure to the natural world, due to digital screen time saturation. This is particularly relevant to science education, and to instilling a love of science and nature in children. This study was conducted on 33 sixth graders at Sea Crest School, an independent school in the San Francisco Bay Area. PBE-focused curriculum was implemented in partnership with the National Park Service, measuring whether PBE had more of an impact on (1) science comprehension, (2) curiosity about and connection to the local landscape, or (3) curiosity and interest in the subject matter. Quantitative measurements included a pre-and post-test and Likert survey, and weekly assessments during the six-week unit, which cycled equally between PBE and traditional inquiry. Qualitative measurements included student interviews, field investigation journals, and post field trip reflections. The results indicated that PBE had the greatest impact on science learning, with substantial positive gains in connection to environment/sense of stewardship, and curiosity and interest in subject matter.




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