Students experience authentic, engaging learning in Chuck Crawford's science class

Authentic inquiry using real world situations is a hallmark of Dublin Jerome science teacher Chuck Crawford’s classroom.

As Hurricane Florence struck the east coast of the United States, Mr. Crawford and a cadre of teachers deviated from their lessons plans to provide a real world, real time explanation of how hurricanes are formed and their destructive power. This is what they refer to as the Citizenship for Global Awareness Series. This is a Series of guest lectures and activities that was started by Mr. Crawford and Matt Martin (social studies department chairperson) in order for students to see the interconnectedness of topics in the world. This installment of the series included physical science (Ms. Delucca, Mrs. Marion, Ms. Erfurt, Mr. Ellis), AP Environmental Science (Crawford), engineering (Mr. Roscoe), Global Politics (Mr. Tobin, Mr. Arnold) and International Diplomacy (Mr. Martin) students at Jerome. 

In Mr. Crawford’s  presentation he had a live feed of the hurricane coverage as it was coming ashore on one monitor, an interactive slideshow using the new PearDeck software on another monitor, and then a third screen that was an interactive touch screen where he showed websites with real time and archived data using sites like the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s website. Students explored many characteristics of storm surge and why it can be devastating and dangerous due to the complexities of conditions and topography. There was also explanation of the atmospheric pressure of a storm, and the size and speed of a storm. And did you know, a hurricane gets its energy from the warm water that it travels over?

Mr. Crawford tries to tie concepts into things that students know as illustrated when he said, “Does everybody remember “Finding Nemo?” What did Crush and the other turtles do? They hopped on the Eastern Australian Current,” The currents beneath the oceans and the atmospheric jet stream are huge influencers on weather and have large impacts when it comes stop severe weather. 

He also tries to tie in historical information to allow for students to make more connections.  
 
“We learned how the jet stream worked during World War II and how the jet stream could provide planes with a tailwind, increasing fuel economy and range of planes,” Mr. Crawford said.

The jet stream has played an important role in Hurricane Florence in terms of it stalling over land and causing catastrophic flooding.

These types of lessons are only a part of what students experience in Mr. Crawford’s class. Prior to the hurricane study, students were building model robot cars from kits in cooperation with Jim Roscoe’s Engineering II students. These two classes are benefitting from more learning space this year thanks to the opening of the Emerald Campus. The relocation of the Dublin Business Academy previously housed at Dublin Jerome has freed up space for cross curricular projects such as the model cars and there are additional plans on how to take advantage of this space in a high school dealing with overcrowding due to student enrollment growth. 

“We want to expose students to as many different experiences as possible so that they can choose to pursue whatever opportunity that they would like to,” Mr. Crawford said. 

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