Science

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs StoryMaker: STEM-Integrated Student Journalism

In this project, Student Reporting Labs will develop an online curriculum delivery platform called StoryMaker and a unique set of tools called Storymaker:STEM that will supply in-demand interdisciplinary, multi-modal, STEM-infused teaching and learning tools to classrooms across the country. The project aims to produce unique STEM stories from a teen perspective and partners with local public media stations to provide mentorship and amplify the voices of young people.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908515
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

PBS NewsHour's Student Reporting Labs (SRL) is a youth journalism program that creates transformative educational experiences through video production and community engagement. The program aims to produce unique STEM stories from a teen perspective and partners with local public media stations to provide mentorship and amplify the voices of young people. In this project, Student Reporting Labs will develop an online curriculum delivery platform called StoryMaker and a unique set of tools called Storymaker:STEM that will supply in-demand interdisciplinary, multi-modal, STEM-infused teaching and learning tools to classrooms across the country. SRL StoryMaker:STEM will be a free, self-directed online curriculum delivery system designed to guide educators working with middle and high school-age students through videojournalism experiences that highlight and integrate STEM skills, concepts, issues, and potential solutions into the learning process. This program will also develop mentoring connections with 40 journalism professionals and STEM professionals to provide supports for participating teachers and students. The project will recruit and work with about 100 teachers and their students over the course of the project to inform, test, implement and provide feedback on the SRL StoryMaker:STEM platform and resources. The associated research will explore evidence-based strategies for structuring co-learning and mentorship connections for students and teachers with journalists and science content experts around SRL StoryMaker:STEM to best support student and teacher outcomes.

The four-year associated research study will contribute to understanding how teachers collaborate on teaching STEM across academic disciplines through a series of interviews, surveys, and site visits with the pilot teachers and their students using SRL StoryMaker:STEM. The analysis of the data will focus on identifying the benefits of developing a community of teachers who collaborate on teaching STEM across the academic discipline through journalism practice. Specifically, a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to examine the following research questions: What teacher affordances are necessary for using journalism practices to support STEM learning across academic disciplines? How do teacher perceptions of their school constraints influence their use of STEM-based learning activities? How do teachers from different disciplines teach numerical reasoning, communicating with data, and the other essential STEM thinking skills? How might an online support community be structured to encourage teacher-to-teacher scaffolding related to STEM content given variation in their pedagogical training? Meanwhile, front-end evaluation will identify barriers and opportunities specific to this project. Formative evaluation will focus on how each specific iteration is meeting teachers' needs and aspirations, and summative evaluation will examine teachers' STEM learning and teachers' perception of students' STEM outcomes.

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Improving Evaluations of R&D in STEM Education

The primary goal of this set of workshops is to provide STEM education researchers with the framework, skills, and community they need to implement new developments in causal inference methods into their research.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1937719
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

The primary goal of this set of workshops is to provide STEM education researchers with the framework, skills, and community they need to implement new developments in causal inference methods into their research. These methods will be immediately implementable in their current (or near future) studies and will result in stronger causal findings, providing higher-quality evidence regarding the potential of new innovations to improve STEM education broadly. Additionally, a secondary goal is to provide the graduate assistants at the workshop (students in statistics) with a strong foundation in the real-world problems facing researchers in STEM education today. By being immersed in this community, the goal is to improve their communication skills, while also providing them with opportunities to develop new methods that address problems facing the STEM education community today.

STEM education research and development studies often focus on the development and iterative refinement of interventions meant to increase STEM participation and skills. Since large-scale randomized experiments are not often possible, researchers typically use correlational methods instead to explore the effects of interventions. Over the past several years, however, statisticians have developed a broad array of methods for understanding causality that do not require these large-scale randomized trials. While these causal inference methods are now common in fields like medicine and education policy, they are much less commonly found in STEM education fields. The purpose of this set of workshops is to introduce STEM education researchers to these methods and how they relate to three research designs they already use: (1) matching on a single variable (e.g., age, gender), (2) pre-test post-test comparisons, and (3) lab experiments. In addition to introducing these new developments, broader discussions of confounding, validity types and trade-offs, design sensitivity, effect size reporting, and questionable research practices (e.g., p-hacking) will also be included.

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Teaching Science Outdoors: A Next Generation Approach for Advancing Elementary Science Teaching in Urban Communities

This project project is designed to enhance the capacity of elementary teachers in high-poverty urban communities for enacting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned science approaches using the outdoors as part of their classroom. The goal of the project is to advance elementary teachers' pedagogical practices and determine how this affects cognitive and non-cognitive learning outcomes of their students, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized in science classrooms.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907506
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

This project addresses a long-standing challenge in science education centered on providing meaningful science education opportunities to students living in communities of high poverty and attending under-resourced elementary schools. These students are significantly less likely to receive high-quality science learning opportunities and to be encouraged to engage in (rather than simply learn about) science. This Michigan State University research project is designed to enhance the capacity of elementary teachers in high-poverty urban communities for enacting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned science approaches using the outdoors as part of their classroom. It builds on and advances prior outdoor education work for the current context of science education that requires elementary teachers to engage students in making sense of phenomena using next generation science and engineering practices. The goal of this project is to advance elementary teachers' pedagogical practices and determine how this affects cognitive and non-cognitive learning outcomes of their students, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized in science classrooms. It also will advance knowledge on ways to bridge informal and formal learning environments. To achieve these goals, the project will develop, enact and study a program that involves a scaffolded series of summer professional development sessions focused on outdoor learning and school year follow-up meetings and classroom-based coaching for elementary teachers and informal educators from two high-need districts.

Design-based research will be utilized to: 1) foster teacher practices and study how these develop over time, 2) work with teachers to measure student outcomes, and 3) determine what aspects of this formal/informal approach are productive, measures of student engagement and student learning artifacts--will be analyzed. The project will serve as a model for developing partnerships between informal science organizations, educators, and K-12 programs. Revised measures and outcomes of teacher practices and student learning; outdoor-focused lesson plans; cases illustrating how elementary teachers develop and enact NGSS-aligned outdoor lessons; a revised informal-formal theoretical model; and information about dissemination of products including facilitation guidelines and coaching approaches will be developed and disseminated.

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The School Gardeners' Southwest Desert Almanac: A Conference for Supporting, Sustaining, and Spreading Garden-Based Science Teaching

Focusing on the Southwest Desert ecoregion, this conference addresses the need for research on effective instructional methods that can be used to support students' science learning in school gardens. The conference will lead to the development of an ecoregional model for garden-based science teaching (GBST) that builds on regional ecological and cultural resources to engage teachers and students in richer and more relevant science learning experiences.

Award Number: 
1908886
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/15/2019 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Full Description: 

Garden-based science teaching (GBST) integrates formal and informal learning, provides teaching opportunities in a wide range of science topics (e.g., soil science, ecology, botany), and creates a place for those topics to be locally and culturally relevant. A proliferation of school gardens nationwide reveals a significant increase (42%) in the creation of school gardens between 2013-2015 (USDA, 2015). As students increasingly engage in science learning in school gardens, the demand for high-quality instruction also grows. However, much of the available research on school gardens emphasizes health and nutrition interventions, without also characterizing the instructional practices of science. This conference addresses the need for research on effective instructional methods that can be used to support students' science learning in school gardens. The conference will focus on the Southwest Desert ecoregion. The ecoregion focus is driven by the longstanding challenges of coordinating a national model of GBST across ecoregion differences, by concentrating on states and sites whose problems and opportunities reflect common ecoregion conditions. This conference will lead to development of an ecoregional model for GBST that builds on regional ecological and cultural resources to engage teachers and students in richer and more relevant science learning experiences.

This conference will organize and implement collaborative activities during and after a 2-1/2 day meeting in Arizona. It will involve 35 participants comprised of teachers (grades K-5), teacher educators, educational researchers, and science content specialists who collectively bring experience with science teaching in school gardens, culturally relevant pedagogy, traditional agricultural practices, and science practices. Conference activities will draw upon participatory design research methods to understand how, when, and why educational innovations work in practice. A key product of the conference and post-conference activities will be an ecoregion model of GBST as instantiated by The School Gardeners' Southwest Desert Almanac. The Almanac will be an online resource for information on GBST, collaboratively produced by practitioners and researchers during- and post-conference activity. This website will feature curated resources such as a multi-media set of case studies illustrating GBST instructional practices.

Fusing Equity and Whole-School STEM Models: A Conference Proposal

This project will plan, implement, and evaluate the outcomes of an invitational conference on the role of equity in whole-school STEM education models, particularly Inclusive STEM Schools (ISS), at the high school level.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907751
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Interest in whole-school STEM education models is rapidly expanding in the United States, but there is limited agreement on the essential features of effective STEM schools and a limited research base on effective practices. There are also concerns regarding equity issues associated with whole-school STEM models. This project will address these issues by planning, implementing, and evaluating the outcomes of an invitational conference on the role of equity in whole-school STEM education models, particularly Inclusive STEM Schools (ISS), at the high school level. The conference will include 25 invited participants who have expertise as researchers or practitioners in equity issues or whole-school STEM reform efforts. These participants will discuss how to: 1) Create a collective understanding among a community of stakeholders regarding the role of equity in whole-school STEM models, 2) Map, synthesize, and report the terrain of existing research around the role of equity in whole-school STEM and non-STEM models including both strengths and gaps in the research base, and 3) Identify central issues and questions that can guide future research in order to prioritize these topics and initiate productive collaborations among participants to pursue answers to critical questions. These discussions will result in two key outcomes: 1) A practitioner centered logic model that integrates equity into the design and implementation of STEM at the whole-school level, and 2) A research model that supports building an empirical understanding of the intersection between equity and whole-school STEM programs.

There are various models of STEM-centered schools, with the most significant difference across models being the enrollment criteria. This project will focus on Inclusive STEM Schools which have open enrollment and provide paths for all students to advanced learning or careers in STEM fields. Federal initiatives have promoted and supported expansion of these schools, but there is little research on the impacts of these schools, and even less research on the role of equity considerations on the design and implementation of these schools. This project will address the limited research base by focusing specifically on culturally relevant and culturally responsive programing for inclusive STEM schools and initiating a research agenda on the role of equity in designing inclusive STEM programs. The project will seek to identify effective practices, and document outcomes on diverse populations.

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Crowdsourcing Neuroscience: An Interactive Cloud-based Citizen Science Platform for High School Students, Teachers, and Researchers

This project will develop a cloud-based platform that enables high school students, teachers, and scientists to conduct original neuroscience research in school classrooms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908482
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Current priorities in school science education include engaging students in the practices of science as well as the ideas of science. This project will address this priority by developing a cloud-based platform that enables high school students, teachers, and scientists to conduct original neuroscience research in school classrooms. Before students and teachers initiate their own studies using the system, they will participate in existing research studies by contributing their own data and collaborating with researchers using the online, interactive system. When experienced with the system, students and teachers will become researchers by developing independent investigations and uploading them to the interactive platform. Both student-initiated and scientist-initiated proposals will be submitted to the platform, peer-reviewed by students and scientists, revised, and included in the online experimental bank. In addition to conducting their own studies using the platform, scientists will act as educators and mentors by populating the experiment bank with studies that can serve as models for students and provide science content for the educational resource center. This online system addresses a critical need in science education to involve students more fully and authentically in scientific inquiry where they gain experience in exploring the unknown rather than confirming what is already known.

This early stage design and development study is guided by three goals: 1) Develop an open-science citizen science platform for conducting human brain and behavior research in the classroom, 2) Develop a remote neuroscience Student-Teacher-Scientists (STS) partnership program for high schools, and 3) Evaluate the design, development, and implementation of the program and its impacts on students and tachers. In developing this project, the project team will link two quickly emerging trends, one in science education, and one in the sciences. Consistent with current priorities in science education, the project will engage students and their teachers in authentic, active inquiry where they learn scientific practices by using them to conduct authentic inquiry where a search for knowledge is grounded in finding evidence-based answers to original questions. On the science side, students and their science partners will participate in an open science approach by pre-registering their research and committing to an analysis plan before data are collected. In this project, students will primarily be using reaction time and online systems to do research that includes study of their own brain function. The project research is guided by three research questions. How does an online citizen neuroscience STS platform: a) impact students' understanding of, and abilities to apply neuroscience and experimental design concepts? b) Impact students' interests in, and attitudes toward science, including an awareness of science careers and applications? and c) Affect teachers' attitudes towards neuroscience teaching, and the use of inquiry-based strategies? A design-based research approach will be used to iteratively design a sustainable and scalable inquiry-based neuroscience curriculum with teachers as design partners.

Designing for Science Learning in Schools by Leveraging Participation and the Power of Place through Community and Citizen Science (Collaborative Research: Ballard)

This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a place-based environmental science research and monitoring program for elementary school students and their teachers.

Project Email: 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908915
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Current priorities in science education include efforts to engage students in scientific reasoning and using the knowledge and practices of science to understand natural phenomena and constructively respond to local and global challenges. This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a place-based environmental science research and monitoring program for elementary school students and their teachers. Students will investigate locally-relevant phenomena related to forest health, such as fire management and invasive species. The students will collect and analyze data related to resource management issues and share findings with community scientists and stakeholders. The project will develop and test a reproducible and adaptable place-based instructional model for schools, districts, and counties having underserved rural populations.

This early stage design and development project for students and teachers of grades 3-5 addresses two major goals: 1) Design and implement a science education program focused on local forest management issues to promote community-relevant learning and agency, and 2) Conduct design-based research to identify effective approaches to engaging young students in purposeful data collection and interpretation, and informed interaction with local stakeholders. The study includes 15 comprehensive public schools and charter schools in 12 school districts in a rural region having limited access to the formal and informal science learning opportunities typically available in urban centers. Research activities are guided by two research questions: 1) To what extent and in what ways do students participating in a school-based, community-engaged, place-based, environmental-focused program develop environmental science agency? And 2) Which design variations of the three Central Design Features foster the three science learning outcomes for students? The three Central Design Features are: 1) Collecting place-relevant environmental data, 2) Facilitated meaning-making with collected data embedded within larger data sets, and 3) Community-engaged, place-based projects and interactions. A design-based research approach will be used to determine how the planned design variations impact learning. The project will involve three design cycles of two-years each, with adjustments being based on insights gained during each implementation cycle. Pre- and post-program sureveys will be used to track changes in student environmental science agency (ESA), and field observations, semi-structured interviews with students and teachers, and examination of student work and artifacts will be used to gather data used to answer the research questions.

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Human Variance and Assessment for Learning Implications for Diverse Learners of STEM: A National Conference

The conference will attract thought leaders, policy makers, supervisors of practice and scholars of measurement science to be informed of emerging thought and developments and to discuss selected models for the implementation of new ways of generating and utilizing data from education tests.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1939192
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

The conference purpose is to stimulate a national conversation concerning the relationships between assessment, teaching and learning that include scholarly research and development of tests; members of city and state boards of education; officials from states and major school systems; policymakers; and representatives of teachers' associations and parents' associations. This conference aims to attract these important professionals has important co-sponsors like the Urban Institute. This national conference flows from the work of the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment for Education that addressed the advancement of achievement in STEM disciplines (PreK-12) for students who are underrepresented among high achieving students. This issue of advancement of underrepresented high achieving students has received little concentrated effort and a conference would help in providing greater understanding of this special concern, which includes a student in poverty in complexed family structures.

The conference will attract thought leaders, policy makers, supervisors of practice and scholars of measurement science to be informed of emerging thought and developments and to discuss selected models for the implementation of new ways of generating and utilizing data from education tests. The conference will stimulate national conversation and ultimately a market that demands educational assessments that inform and improve teaching and learning transactions. The conference will be organized around four conceptual and theoretical papers that focus on the knowledge base upon which six concurrent workshops will be based. The four papers are: (1) Human Diversity and Assessment; (2) The Limits of Test Bias and Its Corrections; (3) Towards an Assessment Science Capable of Informing and Improving Learning; and  (4) Assessment in the Service of Learning. The workshops will focus on models of pedagogical practice that show promise for informing and improving teaching and learning processes and their outcomes. These issues will be discussed by 11-15 expert presenters who understand student learning and the types of information gleaned from different types of assessments. The attention to URMs and their needs and contexts are prioritized in discussions surrounding measurement science and the integration of assessment. Several important issues that address understanding of student learning, and the relationship between the varieties of information concerning students that can be accessed through assessments are: (1) The importance of the broader and more productive use of educational testing to improve the learning of STEM subject matter and values; (2) Curriculum embedded assessment and the reduction in disparities in achievement by STEM learners from diverse social divisions; (3) Innovative procedures and programs for the use of data concerning learners and teaching and learning transactions in the teaching and learning of STEM with learners who are underrepresented among high achieving STEM learners.

Designing for Science Learning in Schools by Leveraging Participation and the Power of Place through Community and Citizen Science (Collaborative Research: Henson)

This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a place-based environmental science research and monitoring program for elementary school students and their teachers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908670
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Current priorities in science education include efforts to engage students in scientific reasoning and using the knowledge and practices of science to understand natural phenomena and constructively respond to local and global challenges. This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a place-based environmental science research and monitoring program for elementary school students and their teachers. Students will investigate locally-relevant phenomena related to forest health, such as fire management and invasive species. The students will collect and analyze data related to resource management issues and share findings with community scientists and stakeholders. The project will develop and test a reproducible and adaptable place-based instructional model for schools, districts, and counties having underserved rural populations.

This early stage design and development project for students and teachers of grades 3-5 addresses two major goals: 1) Design and implement a science education program focused on local forest management issues to promote community-relevant learning and agency, and 2) Conduct design-based research to identify effective approaches to engaging young students in purposeful data collection and interpretation, and informed interaction with local stakeholders. The study includes 15 comprehensive public schools and charter schools in 12 school districts in a rural region having limited access to the formal and informal science learning opportunities typically available in urban centers. Research activities are guided by two research questions: 1) To what extent and in what ways do students participating in a school-based, community-engaged, place-based, environmental-focused program develop environmental science agency? And 2) Which design variations of the three Central Design Features foster the three science learning outcomes for students? The three Central Design Features are: 1) Collecting place-relevant environmental data, 2) Facilitated meaning-making with collected data embedded within larger data sets, and 3) Community-engaged, place-based projects and interactions. A design-based research approach will be used to determine how the planned design variations impact learning. The project will involve three design cycles of two-years each, with adjustments being based on insights gained during each implementation cycle. Pre- and post-program sureveys will be used to track changes in student environmental science agency (ESA), and field observations, semi-structured interviews with students and teachers, and examination of student work and artifacts will be used to gather data used to answer the research questions.

Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education

This project will examine how partnerships among state science leaders, education researchers and education practitioners cultivate vertical coherence and equity in state science education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1920249
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

This project will examine how partnerships among state science leaders, education researchers and education practitioners cultivate vertical coherence and equity in state science education. This is an important study because in most states, the student population is becoming more diverse, and states need help in finding ways to better serve schools and districts within their jurisdictions. Through this effort, state science leaders will participate in a networked improvement community model organized to develop and test state-level strategies. Specifically, the focus will be on the adaptation of instructional materials and formative assessment as linked policy strategies for aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment and for relating instruction to the interests and histories of local communities. State science leaders and researchers will investigate how and under what conditions certain strategies support the emergence of coherent and equitable state systems of science education in which all students have opportunities to meet challenging new science standards. The project will build knowledge and theory about the conditions under which a network of state teams can promote coherent guidance for culturally-based instruction in local districts and schools. Together the partners will collaborate to diagnose current challenges to promoting coherence and equity and then develop knowledge and resources about conditions that promote coherence and equity by testing and studying strategies for cultivating it.

An iterative design-based research approach will be used to build foundational knowledge for the equitable implementation of the vision of science and engineering learning that integrates disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts working from a cultural perspective on learning. A multiple-case study will be used to collect data about the impact of the networked improvement community model on leadership development to effectively improve state efforts. Surveys and interviews will be used to gather information on co-designing efforts, use and adaptation of resources, and knowledge gained by state science leaders. Data will also be collected on political conditions and infrastructures of teamwork as potential facilitators and barriers to the development of strategic knowledge leadership. Analyses of data will identify patterns or configurations of conditions associated with growth in science leaders' strategic knowledge leadership related to equity. This technique will generate evidence-based claims for how and when supports and barriers matter for growth in strategic knowledge leadership for equity.

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