Technology

Transforming STEM Competitions into Collaboratives: Developing eCrafting Collabs for Learning with Electronic Textiles

This project supports the development of technological fluency and understanding of STEM concepts through the implementation of design collaboratives that use eCrafting Collabs as the medium within which to work with middle and high school students, parents and the community. The examine how youth at ages 10-16 and families in schools, clubs, museums and community groups learn together how to create e-textile artifacts that incorporate embedded computers, sensors and actuators.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238172
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

This project supports the development of technological fluency and understanding of STEM concepts through the implementation of design collaboratives that use eCrafting Collabs as the medium within which to work with middle and high school students, parents and the community. The researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Franklin Institute combine expertise in learning sciences, digital media design, computer science and informal science education to examine how youth at ages 10-16 and families in schools, clubs, museums and community groups learn together how to create e-textile artifacts that incorporate embedded computers, sensors and actuators. The project investigates the feasibility of implementing these collaboratives using eCrafting via three models of participation, individual, structured group and cross-generational community groups. They are designing a portal through which the collaborative can engage in critique and sharing of their designs as part of their efforts to build a model process by which scientific and engineered product design and analysis can be made available to multiple audiences.

The project engages participants through middle and high school elective classes and through the workshops conducted by a number of different organizations including the Franklin Institute, Techgirlz, the Hacktory and schools in Philadelphia. Participants can engage in the eCrafting Collabs through individual, collective and community design challenges that are established by the project. Participants learn about e-textile design and about circuitry and programming using either ModKit or the text-based Arduino. The designs are shared through the eCrafting Collab portal and participants are required to provide feedback and critique. Researchers are collecting data on learner identity in relation to STEM and computing, individual and collective participation in design and student understanding of circuitry and programming. The project is an example of a scalable intervention to engage students, families and communities in developing technological flexibility.

This research and development project provides a resource that engages students in middle and high schools in technology rich collaborative environments that are alternatives to other sorts of science fairs and robotic competitions. The resources developed during the project will inform how such an informal/formal blend of student engagement might be scaled to expand the experiences of populations of underserved groups, including girls. The study is conducting an examination of the new types of learning activities that are multiplying across the country with a special focus on cross-generational learning.

Ocean Tracks: Investigating Marine Migrations in a Changing Ocean (Collaborative Research: Block)

Ocean Tracks is developing and classroom testing powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data. Powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools, derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data, allow students to learn and apply core concepts in ecology, biology, environmental science, earth science, oceanography, and climate science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222220
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

Ocean Tracks: Investigating Marine Migrations in a Changing Ocean, a collaboration between Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, is developing a unique model of how to enable high school students to use authentic scientific data via an interactive Web-interface. Ocean Tracks is developing and classroom testing powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data. An interactive website provides access to near-real-time and archival data from electronically tagged marine animals, drifting buoys, and Earth-orbiting satellites collected through the Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Adopt-a-Drifter, and MY NASA DATA programs. Powerful Web-based visualization and analysis tools, derived from state-of-the-art knowledge about how to support student inquiry with data, allow students to learn and apply core concepts in ecology, biology, environmental science, earth science, oceanography, and climate science.

Concurrently, agencies such as the NSF, NOAA, and NASA are making significant investments in sophisticated cyberinfrastructures (CI) that will make available a treasure trove of scientific data via the Internet to scientists and educators; there is tremendous potential for this data to transform teaching and learning by engaging students in authentic scientific work. However, modifying expert-data interfaces for use by students and supporting students as they engage in scientific inquiry with data are significant challenges. There is an urgent need for model programs such as Ocean Tracks that instantiate the best knowledge of experienced educators and education researchers, practicing scientists, and technology experts. Ocean Tracks harnesses the promise of emerging CI to engage high school students in the use of data visualization tools to study the movement patterns and habitat usage of marine animals (e.g., sharks, tunas, turtles, seals, and seabirds) in relation to oceanographic variables (e.g., sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, and current speed and direction). The knowledge gained from Ocean Tracks will have broad impact by serving as a model for designing and implementing projects in which students, teachers, and scientists collaborate to conduct scientific research, even in classrooms that are far from the ocean and scientists' laboratories.

Evaluation of the Sustainability and Effectiveness of Inquiry-Based Advanced Placement Science Courses: Evidence From an In-Depth Formative Evaluation and Randomized Controlled Study

This study examines the impact of the newly revised Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and Chemistry courses on students' understanding of and ability to utilize scientific inquiry, on students' confidence in engaging in college-level material, and on students’ enrollment and persistence in college STEM majors. The project provides estimates of the impact of students' AP-course taking on their progress into postsecondary educational experiences and their intent to continue to prepare to be future engineers and scientists.

Award Number: 
1220092
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This study examines the impact of the newly revised Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and Chemistry courses on students' understanding of and ability to apply scientific inquiry, on students' confidence in successfully engaging in college-level material, and on students enrollment and persistence in college STEM majors. AP Biology and Chemistry courses represent an important educational program that operates at a large scale across the country. The extent to which the AP curricula vary in implementation across the schools in the study is also examined to determine the range of students' opportunity to learn the disciplinary content and the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in inquiry in science. Schools that are newly implementing AP courses are participants in this research and the challenges and successes that they experience are also a component of the research plan. Researchers at the University of Washington, George Washington University and SRI International are conducting the study.

The research design for this study includes both formative components and a randomized control experiment. Formative elements include observations, interviews and surveys of teachers and students in the AP courses studied. The experimental design includes the random assignment of students to the AP offered and follows the performances of the treatment and control students in two cohorts into their matriculation into postsecondary educational experiences. Surveys measure students' experiences in the AP courses, their motivations to study AP science, the level of stress they experience in their high school coursework and their scientific inquiry skills and depth of disciplinary knowledge. The study examines the majors chosen by those students who enter into colleges and universities to ascertain the extent to which they continue in science and engineering.

This project informs educators about the challenges and successes schools encounter when they expand access to AP courses. The experiences of the teachers who will be teaching students with variable preparation inform future needs for professional development and support. The project provides estimates of the impact of students' AP-course taking on their progress into postsecondary educational experiences and their intent to continue to prepare to be future engineers and scientists. It informs policy efforts to improve the access to more rigorous advanced courses in STEM and provides strong experimental evidence of the impact of AP course taking. The project has the potential to demonstrate to educational researchers how to study an educational program that operates at scale.

Learning Trajectories to Support the Growth of Measurement Knowledge: Pre-K Through Middle School

This project is studying measurement practices from pre-K to Grade 8, as a coordination of the STEM disciplines of mathematics and science. This research project tests, revises and extends learning trajectories for children's knowledge of geometric measurement across a ten-year span of human development. The goal will be to validate all components of each learning trajectory, goal, developmental progression, and instruction tasks, as well as revising each LT to reflect the outcomes of the experiments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222944
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2012 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

This project is studying measurement practices from pre-K to Grade 8, as a coordination of the STEM disciplines of mathematics and science. This four-year, mixed methods research project tests, revises and extends learning trajectories (LTs) for children's knowledge of geometric measurement across a ten-year span of human development. Specifically, research teams from Illinois State University and the University at Denver are working with children in urban and suburban schools to (1) validate and extend prior findings from previous NSF-funded research developing measurement learning trajectories with children in pre-K to Grade 5, and (2) generate and extend portions of trajectories for geometric measurement for Grades 6-8.

The project employs a form of microgenetic studies with 24-50 children per grade from pre-K through Grade 5 representing a stratified random sample from a specific set of suburban schools. These studies will test the validity, replicability and generalizability of the LTs for length, area, and volume. The goal will be to validate all components of each learning trajectory, goal, developmental progression, and instruction tasks, as well as revising each LT to reflect the outcomes of the experiments. Analysis of variance measures with pre/post assessments in an experimental/control design will complement the repeated sessions method of microgenetic analysis.

To explore and extend LTs for children in Grade 6-8, the project employs teaching experiments. This design is used to generate and extend portions of trajectories for geometric measurement, and to explore critical aspects of measurement in clinical and classroom contexts. This work is coordinated with the teaching and learning standards issued by the Council of Chief State School Officials/National Governors Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the National Research Council with cognitive and mathematics/science education literature. Emerging constructs for the hypothetical LT levels in relation to relevant frameworks generated by other researchers and those implied by standards documents to establish ongoing sequences of the experimental interventions for grades 6-8 are being compared, critiqued and evaluated.

This project provides a longitudinal account of pre-K to Grade 8 children's ways of thinking and understanding mathematical and scientific concepts of measurement based upon empirical analysis. The resulting learning trajectory will represent state of the art integrated, interdisciplinary, theoretically- and empirically-based descriptions of increasingly sophisticated and complex levels of thinking in the domain of measurement (albeit, more tentative for Grades 6-8). This account will be used to verify and/or modify existing accounts of children's development of reasoning from short-term analyses of learning or cross-sectional studies. There are not yet integrative longitudinal studies describing this cognitive domain for area or volume measurement. This trajectory-based analysis of development and instruction supports the design and testing of integrative, formative assessment of individuals and groups of children. Such learning trajectories will be useful in implementing the standard-focused curriculum described in the Common Core State Standards Mathematics and in supporting the multiple large assessment projects currently underway

Learning Mathematics of the City in the City

This project is developing teaching modules that engage high school students in learning and using mathematics. Using geo-spatial technologies, students explore their city with the purpose of collecting data they bring back to the formal classroom and use as part of their mathematics lessons. This place-based orientation helps students connect their everyday and school mathematical thinking. Researchers are investigating the impact of place-based learning on students' attitudes, beliefs, and self-concepts about mathematics in urban schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222430
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

Learning Mathematics of the City in The City is an exploratory project that is developing teaching modules that engage high school students in learning mathematics and using the mathematics they learn. Using geo-spatial technologies, students explore their city with the purpose of collecting data they bring back to the formal classroom and use as part of their mathematics lessons. This place-based orientation is helping students connect their everyday and school mathematical thinking.

Researchers are investigating the impact of place-based learning on students' attitudes, beliefs, and self-concepts about mathematics in urban schools. Specifically, researchers want to understand how place-based learning helps students apply mathematics to address questions about their local environment. Researchers are also learning about the opportunities for teaching mathematics using carefully planned lessons enhanced by geo-spatial technologies. Data are being collected through student interviews, classroom observations, student questionnaires, and student work.

As the authors explain, "The use of familiar or engaging contexts is widely accepted as productive in the teaching and learning of mathematics." By working in urban neighborhoods with large populations of low-income families, this exploratory project is illustrating what can be done to engage students in mathematics and mathematical thinking. The products from the project include student materials, software adaptations, lesson plans, and findings from their research. These products enable further experimentation with place-based mathematics learning and lead the way for connecting mathematical activities in school and outside of school.

Scale-Up of Selective STEM Specialty Schools: Efficacy Study

This study addresses the question: Does gaining admission to a selective STEM specialty school improve students' academic success on the SAT, SAT II, and Advanced Placement exams? Other portions of the investigation follow additional student outcomes, including: participation and success in STEM competitions; STEM publications; intentions for postsecondary STEM education and STEM careers; and initial postsecondary STEM education. This study seeks to inform considerations of the cost/benefit of directing resources to support such schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221459
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The desire to better empower high-ability STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students has contributed in the last two decades to a jump in the creation of selective STEM specialty high schools. These schools devote all of their attention to a student body comprised only of the most talented students, ones who are most likely to be able to learn the most demanding STEM content, reach their STEM learning potential, and pursue postsecondary STEM study and careers. However, there are mixed views on the role that selective STEM specialty schools play in achieving their mission. While commenting on what is known regarding education in the STEM disciplines, a recent National Research Council report entitled "Successful K-12 STEM Education" notes that "there are no systematic data that show whether the highly capable students who attend those schools would have been just as likely to pursue a STEM major or related career or make significant contributions to technology or science if they had attended another type of school." To address the research gap, this impact study addresses the question: Does gaining admission to a selective STEM specialty school improve students' academic success on the SAT, SAT II (Math Level 2), and Advanced Placement exams (Calculus AB, Chemistry, and Physics B)? Other portions of the investigation follow additional student outcomes, including: participation and success in STEM competitions; STEM publications; National Merit scholarships; intentions for postsecondary STEM education and STEM careers; and initial postsecondary STEM education.

This study is based on the most rigorous possible design for the focal topic: a true experimental investigation of outcomes for students from many selective STEM specialty schools. The study is being accomplished through random assignment of equivalent treatment and control groups, and based on enough students to yield statistical power that can produce the most clear causal result possible. Researchers are recruiting all qualified students who apply for admission to 20 selective STEM specialty schools among the approximately 100 such schools currently in the United States. For the class entering in fall 2013, study schools are revising their routine selection process to one of assigning students for acceptance (treatment condition) or not (control condition) through random assignment of qualified applicants. Researchers, then, are following treatment students via their STEM schools and also intensively tracking all control students wherever they continue their secondary education. The study also investigates relative cost-effectiveness for educating high-achieving students in selective STEM schools versus educating them at other schools.

Since there is an acute and growing U.S. shortage of STEM professionals and technicians, it is imperative for the nation's education system to ensure that talented STEM students are reaching their maximum potential and pursuing postsecondary STEM degree programs and careers. As one strategy increasingly being used to address this need is to educate talented STEM students in selective STEM specialty schools, this study is informing considerations of the cost/benefit of directing resources to support such schools.

Unifying Life: Placing Urban Tree Diversity in an Evolutionary Context

This 3-year project seeks to develop and test curricular resources built around handheld mobile technology to study how these materials foster urban middle school student engagement with and learning of local biodiversity and the patterns of evolution.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221188
Funding Period: 
Sun, 07/15/2012 to Tue, 06/30/2015
Full Description: 

City College of New York (CUNY) is conducting a 3-year exploratory project to develop and test curricular resources built around handheld mobile technology to study how these materials foster urban middle school student interest and engagement with local biodiversity and the patterns of evolution. The project aims to develop curricular resources for middle school students around Leafsnap, an iPhone tree identification app, through a co-design process; to pilot test curricular resources in the classrooms of three New York middle school teachers; to develop and revise assessment tools to measure student outcomes; and to field-test curricular resources in the classrooms of ten New York middle school teachers and analyze results to determine how the Leafsnap curriculum affects urban middle school student learning of biodiversity and the patterns of evolution. The results will be used to modify and disseminate curriculum online with the Leafsnap app.

During the project's first year, the curricular resources will be used in two East Harlem middle schools. In the second year, the resources will be used in the classrooms of ten New York City (NYC) public middle school teachers. In the third year, these resources will be integrated into a life science for middle school teachers course as part of CUNY's graduate program in secondary science education, a program specifically designed to prepare teacher candidates for careers in NYC public middle schools. Also, in the project's third year, the curricular resources will be disseminated through the Leafsnap website to a wider online audience.

The project advances understanding of underrepresented urban middle school student learning of local biodiversity in a historical evolutionary context by addressing the three major dimensions of the new Framework for K-12 Science Learning: core science content, the practice of science, and concepts that crosscut all scientific disciplines. Pre- and post-treatment clinical interviews with students will be conducted to provide qualitative insights into how use of the Leafsnap curriculum impacts students' understanding and motivation for identifying and organizing tree diversity.

Partnerships for Early Childhood Curriculum Development: Readiness Through Integrative Science and Engineering (RISE)

The RISE project is creating curriculum resources for dual language learners (DLLs) in science, technology and engineering (STE). Participants include teachers in pre-K programs in the Boston area selected to target Hispanic and Chinese students and their families. The curriculum will be based on the Massachusetts framework, one of only a few states with pre-K standards. The evaluation will monitor both the progress of the research and development and the dissemination to the target audiences.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221065
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The RISE project is creating curriculum resources for dual language learners (DLLs) in science, technology and engineering (STE). Participants include teachers in pre-K programs in the Boston area selected to target Hispanic and Chinese students and their families. University partners include Tufts, Rutgers, Miami, and Northern Iowa, who will work with ABCD Head Start. An innovative feature is the incorporation of family funds of knowledge as a basis for the curriculum development. There are two research questions. 1. What are the most productive procedures for appropriate application of the full integrated RISE curriculum in Head Start classrooms serving DLL children? 2. What is the impact of the fully integrated RISE curriculum versus the comparison condition on teacher attitudes, classroom instruction, and quality, home-school relationships, and DLL children's STE knowledge and approaches to learning? In years 1 and two, 5 teachers are being supported, with 10 teachers in year 3. Participating parents are 40, 105, and 180 for years 1, 2 and 3. Professional development and mentoring is being provided for the teachers, and parent-teacher discussion groups are facilitating communication.

The research data is based on extensive classroom observations as well as interviews and surveys. For question 2, the project plans a quasi-experimental study of 10 RISE and 8 randomly selected comparison classrooms sampling 10 students in each classroom. Data will be analyzed with ANCOVA. The curriculum will be based on the Massachusetts framework, one of only a few states with pre-K standards. The evaluation will monitor both the progress of the research and development and the dissemination to the target audiences.

The curriculum materials are to be posted on the Tufts University website and a commercial publisher is being sought. Units are to be 6-12 weeks in duration, with a typical classroom engaging approximately four units. With the growing population of DLL students and the recognition that early childhood education in STE makes significant contributions to children's education, this project has the potential for national impacts.

CAREER: Supporting Computational Algorithmic Thinking (SCAT)—Exploring the Development of Computational Algorithmic Thinking Capabilities in African-American Middle School Girls

The project at Spelman College includes activities that develop computational thinking and encourage middle school, African-American girls to consider careers in computer science. Over a three-year period, the girls attend summer camp sessions of two weeks where they learn to design interactive games. Experts in Computational Algorithmic Thinking as well as undergraduate, computer science majors at Spelman College guide the middle-school students in their design of games and exploration of related STEM careers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1737442
Funding Period: 
Sun, 07/15/2012 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

The Supporting Computational Algorithmic Thinking (SCAT) project at Spelman College includes activities that develop computational thinking and encourage middle school, African-American girls to consider careers in computer science. Over a three-year period, the girls attend summer camp sessions of two weeks where they learn to design interactive games. They participate in workshops, field trips, and game-design competitions. Experts in Computational Algorithmic Thinking as well as undergraduate, computer science majors at Spelman College guide the middle-school students in their design of games and exploration of related STEM careers.

Research on the development of Computational Algorithmic Thinking is an integral part of the project. The researcher is investigating how middle-school girls develop computational thinking and problem solving skills. Game design has been shown to be an area that is attractive to adolescents and it requires extensive problem solving and computational algorithmic thinking. Within the context of designing games individually and within groups, the researcher is assessing how the girls develop computational algorithmic thinking, and what difficulties they experience. Researchers are also assessing how the project experiences influence the students' self-perceptions of themselves as problem solvers. At the same time, the girls engaged in educational experiences where they are expected to gain knowledge in mathematics, programming, and reasoning, as well as game design. Research data consists of artifacts that the students have created, observations, participant journals, and interviews.

Computational Algorithmic Thinking is an essential skill for most STEM careers. African-American women are underrepresented in many STEM fields and especially in computer science. The goals of the project are to prepare girls with these essential skills and to increase their confidence in participating in STEM education. The project is also exposing participating girls to a wide variety of STEM careers. In addition, the materials, lesson plans, and activities generated in the project are available to be used, without charge, by other groups interested in designing similar programs.

This project was previously funded under award #1150098.

Educational Design and Development: Planning for a STEM Learning Research Transformation

This is a planning effort to explore future directions and innovations related to educational design in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in partnership with the International Society for Design and Development in Education. The planning activity will engage a core group of ISDDE principals in the articulation and examination of design processes for the Transforming STEM Learning program at NSF with a goal of developing an agenda for further discussion and research conceptualization.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1216850
Funding Period: 
Tue, 05/15/2012 to Tue, 04/30/2013

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