Concept maps were used as a tool to solve problems in earth science and as a way to help students organize their ideas as a part of a three-part model, Real Engagement in Active Problem Solving (REAPS). Concept maps also were used to augment the National Science Foundation's (NSF) program — Full Option Science System (FOSS) for 3rd grade elementary students. We used two methods of assessment, Ruiz-Primo et al. (1997) and Novak & Gowin (1984). The results of the pre-post concept map assessment demonstrated that the students increased their content knowledge. Both the Novak and Ruiz-Primo methods showed an increase in accuracy of relationships and complexity of understanding of earth materials pre to post instruction. We also showed that the REAPS model enhanced the teacher's ability to teach the FOSS Earth Materials Unit and at the same time meet the Arizona State Standards in science and other non-science standards such as art, through model building. We concluded that to facilitate the use of concept maps in the classroom, teachers need more training and a simplified scoring system so they can easily score their students' progress when doing concept maps. From the practical point of view, we consider that more training and incorporation of practical activities is needed to prepare the students for concept mapping. Further research is needed to examine these possibilities.
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