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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Water on the Web

by Bruce Munson
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.9 stars
Content Quality: 4.9 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.8 stars
Reviewed: Jul 24, 2005 by Teacher Education
Overview:

This site contains a complete study in limnology. The use of real time data
gathered from various lakes in Minnesota and across the nation allows the user to study over a dozen
protocols regarding fresh water characteristics. Through the use of HTML,
GIS, Microsoft Excel, or other web browsing tools the student can learn on many
levels and depths by utilizing assorted modes of visualizations. The compendium includes tutorials to help students learn how limnologists use data to assess water quality.

Learning Goals:

To improve understanding and mangement of aquatic resources by bringing real world issues and data into the classroom

  1. The student will gain skill in locating, securing and working with assorted
    data found on the WOW site.
  2. The student will gain a meaningful understanding and ability to solve real
    world environmental problems using basic science concepts and applications.
  3. The student and teacher will gain knowledge and skill in using internet
    accessible data through the use of various electronic tools.
Target Student Population:

The lessons are designed to be incorporated into the integrated science or enrichment curriculum of
advanced high school or univerisity and community college science courses. The material is appropriate for science teacher education professional development in areas where integrated science can be taught through one of the EPA Adopt Your Watershed programs. See http://www.epa.gov/adopt/ for links to groups who study water quality in local watersheds.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

The author suggests that basic skills in using spreadsheet
software would be useful. A basic understanding of biological terminology and elementary chemistry would
also be helpful.

Type of Material:

Tutorials and primary data sources.

Recommended Uses:

The content would be a great asset to any environmental science curriculum. It
is specifically designed for use with fresh water biology concepts. The
tutorials are especially helpful when preparing students to gain skill in data
collection and analysis. It is of use for programs designed involve teachers and their students with science in the local community by preparing students to participate in the Clean Water Foundation World Water Monitoring Day in October.

Technical Requirements:

With access to a basic web browser the user will only be able to complete the
first tutorial. For complete use of the site a more recent browser will be
necessary (Internet Explorer 4.x or higher, Nestscape 4.06 or higher. On Macs
Mac OS Runtime for Java [MrJ]2.1. To complete one of the tutorials and to
access data more efficiently Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet will also be necessary.
To view the animated tutorial on creating graphs the Flash plug - in is
required.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.9 stars
Strengths:

The content is very adaptable to any established program. The tutorials are
exceptionally helpful and provide excellent preparation for using the entire
site. The real time data provides for an authentic learning experience and the links between content and working with the data provide an important but rare example of raw data associated with explanatory models. Web
visualizations provide students with the ability to see relationships that
otherwise may be overlooked or misinterpreted by visual inspection of data
alone. Terminology is linked to definitions, a nice
addition which facilitates efficient reading and comprehension of contextual
material.

Concerns:

The addition of a link to general biological and physical concepts that are
appropriate as a basis for working in limnology would enhance and empower the
project. There is no mention of the oxygen consumption by bacteria for detoxification of ammonia and nitrites - as if animals and plants were the only major organisms with oxygen requirements.


Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:

Combines both direct instruction (in the form of Studying Lessons) and inquiry (in the form of Investigating Lessons). For the teacher, guided lesson plans are ready to use. Data sets are
formatted in such a manner that the teacher can manipulate the information for
use in any planned strategies. The option is available to manipulate the data
into inquiry - based lessons. SOme of the data
is authentic and live in real time.
The ability to gain skill in online acquisition of data for the purpose of
constructing a judgement or consensus regarding fresh water dynamics is very
real and attainable through the guided lessons. The ability to create directed
inquiry in the same framework is also a realistic and attainable goal with the resources provided.

Concerns:

Although some of the Investigating Lessons appear to be traditional lab worksheets (but with authentic data), an outstanding lesson called Investigating Data Interpretation explicitly contrasts instructional material designed to demonstrate a particular principle from how scientific research is performed to answer a research question.


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.8 stars
Strengths:

The web site is well planned and the layout is logical and simple to follow.
There is a site map link which returns the user to home when necessary. Directions are provided at each
step of operation. Questions in the tutorials are well developed and guide the
user to a working understanding of all aspects of the site. Visual
confirmations are designed as color changes, image creations, embolded text etc.
as the user moves the cursor and makes selections. The links to real-time data and data visualization tools are outstanding and easy to use.

Concerns:

None


Other Issues and Comments:

Thank you for this material that has the potential to involve classroom science teachers for implementing aspects of the Unit VI Management Policy and Outreach objectives. Graphics are excellent. The section with links to appropriate and related
content is extensive and well organized. Besides highlighted definitions
embedded in the text, a list of terms and definitions have been developed into a
glossary. Tutorials are easy to use and provide more than adequate instruction
in a very visually aesthetic format.