About the Journal

Natural Sciences Education covers many academic disciplines, publishing articles for educators in the areas of natural resources, plant science, entomology, animal science, ecology, and the environment. Several cooperating institutions are involved in its publication.

Featured Article

"Celebrating 50 Years" collection of 6 NSE covers
The golden age of education: Natural Sciences Education turns 50

Read the editorial by Editor Maja Krzic as NSE celebrates Volume 50!
During the five decades of its existence, the journal went through numerous changes, including name changes and six different cover designs. Read more

Browse Articles

Open access

Student perceptions towards introductory lessons in R

  •  28 September 2021

Core Ideas

  • The initial hurdles for learning statistical programming can be daunting to students.
  • Valuable class time is often dedicated to covering the basic concepts of programming.
  • To overcome these obstacles, we developed a self-paced tutorial to introduce the basics of R.
  • Survey responses indicate that our tutorial offers similar benefits as a lecture introduction.
  • Benefits include increased likelihood of returning to R and perceived advantages of using R.

Open access

Learning from the land: Developing a course on Indigenous foodways

  •  6 September 2021

Core Ideas

  • This article describes one example of incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems into a horticulture course.
  • This article suggests how to use transdisciplinary approaches to teach Indigenous Foodways.
  • This article articulates the importance of developing relationships and collaborations to begin to ‘Indigenize’ the curriculum.

Development and assessment of an online plant science laboratory course: Comparison to current in‐person laboratory

  •  30 July 2021

Core Ideas

  • Student learning and overall satisfaction were similar across course delivery modes.
  • Synchronous web discussions created opportunities to elevate learning.
  • Directions for and purpose of lab activities were not well translated to the online students.
  • In an open-ended survey question, the most cited pro of the online labs was convenience.
  • In an open-ended survey question, the most cited pro of in-person lab was seeing/touching plants.

Virtual foaling: A case study

  •  30 July 2021

Core Ideas

  • Employing a video surveillance system as an effective teaching strategy.
  • Students engaged in remote observation of mares foaling with streaming video for online content.
  • Engaging remote students with the inclusion of video content in teaching methodologies.

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Open access

Lessons learned teaching during the COVID‐19 pandemic: Incorporating change for future large science courses

Core Ideas

  • A simplified, easy-to-follow online course structure (e.g., weekly) was developed.
  • Labs were redesigned for a virtual format with a focus on concepts, not procedures.
  • Synchronous and asynchronous instruction was blended, including discussions.
  • We limited the creation of new online resources based on their post pandemic utility.

Drones: The Newest Technology for Precision Agriculture

Abstract

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been used by the military since WWI for remote surveillance. In the last decade, farmers have begun using them to monitor their fields as well as aiding precision agriculture programs. There are estimates that 80 to 90% of the growth in the drone market in the next decade will come from agriculture. The ease of use and ability to specialize each system means there will be a UAV for every situation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation currently limits drone usage to recreational. Rules for commercial use are expected to come out in September of 2015. UAVs can monitor fields more often than satellites, take more detailed pictures, and are not obstructed by clouds. The different types of cameras can monitor data like photosynthesis rates or find where patches of weeds are in a field. As the technology gets better and the cost continues to decrease, drones will have wider use in today's farm fields.

Open access

Experiential Learning in Soil Science: Use of an Augmented Reality Sandbox

Abstract

Core Ideas

  • Greater learning occurs when students are active participants.
  • An augmented reality sandbox belongs in the soil science classroom.
  • Experiential learning increases student engagement.

Active participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses maximizes learning while novel technologies allow instructors the opportunity to create interactive activities in the classroom. With this in mind, we incorporated the use of an augmented reality (AR) sandbox at the University of Wyoming to facilitate an experiential learning experience in soil science. The AR sandbox was developed by researchers at the University of California-Davis as part of a project on informal science education in freshwater lakes and watershed science. It is a hands-on display that allows users to create topography models by shaping sand that is augmented in real-time by colored elevation maps, topographic contour lines, and simulated water. It uses a 3-dimensional motion sensing camera that detects changes to the distance between the sand surface and the camera sensor. A short-throw projector then displays the elevation model and contour lines in real-time. Undergraduate students enrolled in the Introductory Soil Science course were tasked with creating a virtual landscape and then predicting where particular soils would form on the various landforms. All participants reported a greater comprehension of surface water flow, erosion, and soil formation as a result of this exercise. They also provided suggestions for future activities using the AR sandbox including its incorporation into lessons of watershed hydrology, land management, soil physics, and soil genesis.

Open access

The Influence of Water Attitudes, Perceptions, and Learning Preferences on Water‐Conserving Actions

Abstract

Water conservation is an important natural resource issue, and the focus of a number of educational and extension programs. Inherent in many programs is the causal link between water facts and conservation behaviors that affect water quality and/or quantity. This article interprets the results of a survey on attitudes and perceptions of water resources (n = 2226) from nine states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas). The goal of the survey was to assess attitudes and perceptions of water supply, water quality, and factors affecting them. We assess the influence of attitudes and perceptions regarding the environment, water resources, governance, information sources, and demographics on water conservation behaviors. Specifically, we assess the role that these factors play in indoor and outdoor water-conserving actions indicated by respondents. We find several statistically significant non-knowledge factors that drive water conservation: perceived importance of water resources and their preferred use; preferred learning modes and information sources; interest in certain types of water issues; views on governance; general environmental attitudes; and demographics. For example, preferring passive learning modes (e.g., reading a newspaper article) negatively influences outdoor conservation, while preferring to learn by taking action (e.g., training) positively influences both indoor and outdoor conservation. These results highlight the importance of a number of non-knowledge factors in water program-related behavior change, and suggest a number of factors that could inform targeted approaches to influence differing audiences.

Open access

Developing and Evaluating an ESRI Story Map as an Educational Tool

Abstract

Core Ideas

  • An ESRI Story Map (a web application based on maps) was developed and tested for teaching topography.
  • Student evaluations of the ESRI Story Map were positive.
  • ESRI Story Maps can be an effective teaching and learning tool.

Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Story Maps are web applications based on maps and other multimedia, which can be effectively used in soil science education. The purpose of this study was to develop an ESRI Story Map “Soil Forming Factors: Topography” for teaching an introductory soil science courses and to assess the performance of the newly developed story map using ESRI's “five principles of effective storytelling” and user responses to a quiz testing the acquired knowledge. Specific learning objectives were stated on each story map page and throughout the learning materials. Navigation of each story map page is controlled by the participant via tabs to allow the user to control the pace of the learning experience. Participants received an average score of 8.2 (out of 9 maximum points) for the quiz. The ESRI Story Map scored well for each principle of the ESRI's five principles of effective storytelling, with more than 70% of responses having an excellent rating. Additional comments suggest that participants were positive about the ESRI Story Map as a stand-alone teaching tool or in combination with PowerPoint slides. The ESRI Story Map “Soil Forming Factors: Topography” can be further improved by incorporating interactive exercises. ESRI Story Maps can be effective teaching tools in science education.

Open access

Extending the Locavore Movement to Wild Fish and Game: Questions and Implications

Abstract

The locavore movement presents an opportunity to educate citizens about the nutritional and culinary benefits associated with consumption of wild fish and game, as well as demonstrate the benefits and value of hunting and fishing activities. An integrated research and extension program focused on procuring, preparing, and eating wild fish and game provides further opportunities to understand how actions such as participation in hunting, fishing, and other related outdoor recreation contribute to society and to the rest of the environment. Further, learning that can occur from an extension program that is nested in a stewardship or resource management practice, such as “locavore hunting and fishing,” interacts with a larger social–ecological system. Such a program can address numerous civic and public well-being concerns facing society, including an increasing lack of nature contact, a growing health crisis due to diet and inactivity, a decline in hunting and fishing (which create the revenue streams for habitat and wildlife management), and diminishing availability of high-quality, local foods due to economic concerns.

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