The goal of this project is to investigate whether the integration of real data from cutting-edge scientific research in grade 6-10 classrooms will increase students’ quantitative reasoning ability in the context of science. Data Nuggets are activity-based resources that address current needs in STEM education and were developed by science graduate students and science teachers at Michigan State University through prior support from the NSF GK-12 program and the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. The goal of Data Nuggets is to engage students in the practices of science through an innovative approach that combines scientific content from authentic research with key concepts in quantitative reasoning. Partners from Michigan State University and BSCS will adapt the materials to address current science and mathematics standards, create a professional development program for teachers, and test the efficacy of the materials through a cluster-randomized trial in the classrooms of 30 teachers in Michigan, Colorado, and California.
The project will study whether short, targeted interventions of classroom activities embedded within a typical curriculum can impact student outcomes. Prior to the study teachers will participate in professional development. Classrooms of the teachers in the study will be randomly assigned to either a treatment or comparison condition. Student outcome measures will include understanding of quantitative reasoning in the context of science, understanding of the practices and processes of science, student engagement and motivation, and interest in science.
In order to adequately train the next generation of citizens and scientists, research is needed on how quantitative reasoning skills build upon each other throughout K-16 science education Students need to experience activities that emphasize how science is conducted, and apply their understandings of how scientists reason quantitatively. Establishing the efficacy of Data Nuggets could provide the field with information about supplementing existing curriculum with short interventions targeted at particular scientific practices. By facilitating student access to authentic science, Data Nuggets bridge the gap between scientists and the public. Scientists who create Data Nuggets practice their communication skills and share both the process of science and research findings with K-12 students (and perhaps their families), undergraduates, and teachers, improving the understanding of science in society.