Prior to the North American Division (NAD) Educators’ Convention in Phoenix, over 40 passionate science teachers embarked on a journey with Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) scientists to explore the magnificent landscapes of Petrified Forest National Park, the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and more. The goal of the field trip was to enhance the participants’ appreciation and comprehension of geology and the history of the earth, making them better prepared to effectively integrate faith and science in their classrooms.
At Petrified Forest National Park, the teachers observed the wonders of natural transformation in the remains of trees that had turned to stone. They discussed the process of fossilization, how long it takes for wood to petrify, and how fossils paint a picture of past animal interactions and their environment. Walking among these fossilized tree logs provided an opportunity to discuss processes and sediment transport rates.
The trip through the breathtaking Grand Canyon offered a remarkable setting for discussions about the origins debate and the geologic record. The educators could not help but be humbled by the scale and complexity of the Earth’s geological history. They were presented with the unique opportunity to study intricate rock formations that could be viewed through the lenses of catastrophism or gradualism. They also observed footprints and other fossils embedded in the rock while hiking into the canyon on the South Kaibab Trail.
“As an instructor of grades 1-8,” said Rachel Jameson, teacher at Edenville SDA Elementary School, “I will make a greater effort to give my students field experience in the sciences and to teach them that although we may not be able to explain all the evidence we find, we can still trust what God says in his word.”
After experiencing the wonders of nature, the educators engaged in discussions and workshops by Dr. Ronny Nalin, Dr. Ben Clausen, Dr. Tim Standish, and Dr. Raul Esperante. They explored ways to effectively blend faith and science in their classroom teachings and were reminded to respect science while remaining faithful to God and the Bible.
“As a science teacher,” said Joel Shetler, incoming science instructor at Spencerville Academy, “I wear two beautiful hats, one as a scientist, where I want to present evidence and help students learn how to research and determine what to do with that evidence, but also as a teacher in the Adventist community, where I bring in the faith side of it. I show how the evidence relates to our beliefs but [also] that, ultimately, we must keep learning and researching.”
Armed with fresh perspectives and a commitment to nurturing their students’ spiritual and scientific growth, the participants seek to ignite a transformative spark in the education community. They are prepared to enrich the lives of their students by fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural world and its Creator. With the lessons learned from this adventure, these educators are poised to guide the next generation on a path of holistic understanding, where faith and science complement each other in the quest for growth in knowledge and wisdom.
The mission of the Geoscience Research Institute of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is to explore the natural world, seeking to develop and share an understanding of nature consistent with the biblical teaching as expressed in the Church’s statement of fundamental belief on creation. GRI resources available for educators include books, articles, posters, a valuable collection of websites, PowerPoints, photos, and videos. These resources can be used to plan and supplement lessons for various natural science subjects. For more information on our resources, please visit our website at www.grisda.org and subscribe to our newsletter.