Curricula/Activities

Physical Science Comes Alive: Exploring Things that Go

This project creates eight half-year units in two subject areas—Force and Motion, and Energy Systems— for three grade bands, pre-K–1, 2-3 and 4–6. These projects integrate engineering, science, math literacy and art in the context of design, construction and testing of toys using inexpensive or recycled materials.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733209
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Sat, 09/01/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Marie Hoepfl
Full Description: 

 The goals of the project are to develop and support the use of materials that promote integration of engineering with science, math, literacy and art in the elementary grades. Children engage in designing, making and testing their own devices. These include cardboard mechanisms that animate stories; paper pop-ups; gravity-, elastic- and electric-powered cars, and gadgets with hidden switches that produce light, sound and/or motion when opened or closed. Through these activities, students develop facility with materials, plus an understanding of systems, models, design, constraints, redesign and troubleshooting, which are core concepts in engineering education. Physics concepts include motion, force and energy. Writing is an essential component of the project, and of science education generally.

There are eight curriculum units in two sets of four each, under the headings of Force & Motion and Energy Systems. Each set consists of one unit each for grades K-1 and 2-3, and two units for 4-5. Classroom sets for the units cost between $100 and $300 apiece, and many of the materials can be acquired by recycling instead of purchase. As part of the Energy Systems Curriculum, students create gravity-powered cars in the K-1 unit Invent-a-Wheel, wind-up vehicles in the 2nd-3rd grade unit Fantastic Elastic, and electric cars in 4th and 5th grades in the EnerJeeps unit. In the course of this work students write their own equipment lists, instruction manuals, trouble-shooting guides and analyses of how their devices work. The analysis leads directly to basic concepts of physical science. When students operate their wind-ups, for example, they experience the use of their own power to store energy in a rubber band, and witness its release as kinetic energy when they let it go.

Project Delta: Digital Environments for the Learning and Teaching of Algebra

The purpose of Project Delta is two-fold: (1) to extend an existing library of 17 interacting CD-ROM digital learning environments on numbers and operations by adding an algebra strand, and (2) to evaluate the impact of the new algebra materials on teacher development. Each of the digital environments features classroom sessions that allow for exploration of a mathematics topic, children learning over time, and teachers? instructional techniques.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822034
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 to Sat, 07/31/2010

CLUSTER: Investigating a New Model Partnership for Teacher Preparation (Collaborative Research: Steinberg)

This project integrates the informal and formal science education sectors, bringing their combined resources to bear on the critical need for well-prepared and diverse urban science teachers. The study is designed to examine and document the effect of this integrated program on the production of urban science teachers. This study will also research the impact of internships in science centers on improving classroom science teaching in urban high schools.

Award Number: 
0554269
Funding Period: 
Sat, 04/01/2006 to Thu, 03/31/2011
Full Description: 

            CLUSTER (Collaboration for Leadership in Urban Science Teaching, Evaluation and Research) is an NSF-funded TPC project. Its partners are The City College of New York (CCNY), New York Hall of Science (NYHS), and City University of New York’s Center for Advanced Study in Education (CASE). It aims to develop and research a model designed to increase and improve the pool of secondary science teachers who reflect the ethnic distribution of city students and who are prepared to implement inquiry-based science instruction.

            CLUSTER Fellows are undergraduate science majors in New York City. They are recruited, trained, and certified to teach science in New York City middle and high schools. They participate both as students in the CCNY Teacher Education Program and as Explainers in the NYHS Science Career Ladder. Their experiences in class and at the NYHS are integrated and guided by a conceptual framework, which emphasizes science as an active process of discovery where ideas are developed and constructed through meaningful experience.

            CLUSTER aims to produce generalizable knowledge of interest to the field regarding the growth and development of perspective teachers in an experiential training program and to assess the impact and value of the CLUSTER model.

Ecology Disrupted: Using Real Scientific Data About Daily Life to Link Environmental Issues to Ecological Processes in Secondary School Science Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Wyner)

We developed and tested two ecology case study units for urban high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies, based on digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History, use current scientific data to link ecological principles to daily life and environmental issues. Preliminary testing results show that treatment students made significantly higher gains than the control students on the project's major learning goals.

Award Number: 
0918629
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Full Description: 

We have refined and tested wo case study units on contemporary issues in ecology for urban middle and high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies are based on two Science Bulletins, digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), which use current scientific data to link ecological principles to real-world environmental issues, and to link issues to human daily life. One unit asks the question, ‘How might snowy and icy roads affect Baltimore’s water supply?’ The other asks the question, ’How might being able to drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in just four hours put local bighorn sheep at risk?’ The units provide source material and real data for students to investigate these questions, video profiles of scientists that engage students in the science and the research, and the Museum Science Bulletins media for students to analyze and connect the questions to broader ecological principles and issues. We are using these modules to research the question, “Can curricular units that link environmental issues to ecological principles through analysis of real data from published research on the environmental impacts of familiar everyday activities improve student learning of ecological principles, personal and human environmental impacts and the nature of scientific activity?” 

 

Randomized control trials in the classrooms of 40 ninth grade NYC public school teachers are being used to evaluate the efficacy of the modules.  Assessment items from New York State Regents exams were reviewed and new assessment items were developed, field tested, and analyzed for validity and reliability. Students in the experimental and control classrooms were pre- and post-tested using the assessments.  In addition, teachers completed pre-post surveys, and stratified samples of teachers were observed and interviewed. To evaluate the effects of the intervention on student achievement and on instructional practices, descriptive and inferential statistics, including analysis of variance (ANOVA) models are being employed to addressing the core research question about student achievement. ANOVA models are also being used to measure main effects and interactions between the intervention and other variables as they relate to student achievement. Preliminary analysis indicates that treatments students showed signficantly higher gains than control students on learning of three major project learning goals: 1. Understanding of ecological principles in the context of human impact 2. Understanding daily life in the context of human impact 3. Understanding the nature of scientific evidence.

 

Finally, we will apply our evaluation findings from testing the modules to develop a summative module on oyster fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. Also, in order to disseminate the materials online to a national audience, we will develop an online “kit of parts” of module components to enable teachers to create customized modules that target their students' specific instructional needs.

Coherent Implementation of Mathematics Instructional Materials: A Study of the Variations and Effects of District Supports for Implementation

This project is a four-year, longitudinal, mixed-methods study of 12 school districts’ implementation of elementary mathematics instructional materials. It investigates the relationships among the district level of coherence of implementation, the school level of support for implementation, the school level of use of materials, and the effects on student outcomes.

Award Number: 
0918109
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2009 to Mon, 09/30/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Cynthia Char

Electronic Teacher Guide: Its Development and Use in Supporting Educative Curricula

This project is developing and testing a prototype electronic teacher's guide for a 12-week genetics unit in the NSF-funded curriculum titled Foundation Science: Biology to determine how it impacts high school teachers' learning and practice. The electronic guide, which is based on an existing print guide, has a flexible design so that it anticipates and meets the curriculum planning and support needs of teachers with different knowledge/skills profiles.

Award Number: 
0918702
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Kathleen Haynie
Full Description: 

eTG Overview Poster

The hallmark of many inquiry-based curricula is a hefty teacher guide that accompanies the student materials.  These teacher guides are generally designed to be ‘educative’, intended both to help teachers implement the materials with fidelity to the  developers’ intentions and to give teachers opportunities to incorporate new instructional practices into their teaching such as guided inquiry, sense-making discussions, and formative assessment.  In many cases, the teacher guide may be the only professional development experience teachers have when embarking on the implementation of a new curriculum. 

Yet despite the best intentions of curriculum developers in providing accessible and useful teacher support materials, use of teacher guides is often random and occasional. The guides tend to be large, dense, and separate from the student books, making them unwieldy, difficult to navigate, and time consuming to use. Teachers may not realize the importance of these guides in the implementation of the materials, assuming that the contents are ancillary and supplemental. However evidence from field tests of these curricula indicate that when teachers do use them, they find them excellent resources that support the teaching of the curriculum and the acquisition of new instructional strategies.

To determine whether digital technology can make large print teacher guide more accessible and useful, EDC is developing an electronic Teacher Guide (eTG) based on the print guide for Foundation Science: Genetics. Our goal is to develop a cybertool that helps teachers plan and teach their curriculum, reflect on its execution, and enhance their teaching practice. The eTG is a cloud-based web application that lets teachers access the Foundation Science curriculum and their planning and teaching notes anytime, anywhere.  In the tool they find teaching tips, strategies and videos that are aligned with the student materials, features that encourage them to mindfully modify the curriculum with fidelity to intentions of curriculum, and slides that once modified, can be saved and projected for students to guide their inquiries.   

The centerpiece of the eTG is the Foundation Science: Genetics curriculum, in the form of an eBook that includes the text of both the student book and teacher guide. Included are a variety of digital supports, features that help teachers Plan, Teach, and Reflect on their curriculum and teaching. In Plan mode teachers can a) see graphic overviews of the teaching sequence, b) modify a basic “deck” of slides for their students while keeping the developers’ intent in mind, c) draw on a set of filtered web resources in adding to the materials, and d) can access videos and other graphical and text supports to help students have rich and grounded discussions about the meaning of the classroom activities and readings.  In Teach mode, teachers project their modified ‘slide deck’ and use it to guide student interaction and discussion.  As they proceed, teachers can modify their decks as needed. The Reflect mode provides checklists which enable the teacher to self-assess her/his attainment of the key goals of the learning experience and to make decisions about modifications of the material for the future.

In the midst of the fourth year of the eTG project, we have completed the prototype, tested it with teacher users for appeal, comprehensibility and effectiveness, and carried out field tests in several classrooms to investigate how and to what end teachers use the different features, and with what outcomes. The final year of the project will see a second round of classroom field-testing, data analysis and dissemination of our findings in the form of comparative case studies.

Linear Algebra and Geometry: Advanced Mathematics for More Students

EDC is developing a high school capstone course in linear algebra. Student resources contain a core semester that develops two- and three-dimensional geometry using vectors and that treats matrix algebra and its applications to geometry; a semester of material that completes a typical undergraduate course (exploring bases, determinants and eigentheory); and 5 stand-alone modules that develop applications of this core to mathematics, engineering, science, and other STEM fields.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0733015
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Mon, 09/30/2013
Project Evaluator: 
University of New Hampshire

The Coaching Cycle: An Interactive Online Course for Mathematics Coaches

The Coaching Cycle project is creating an online course for K–8 mathematics instructional coaches. The project targets coaches in rural areas and small schools who do not have access to regular district-wide professional development. It provides training in the skills needed for effective instructional coaching in mathematics by using artifacts collected by practicing coaches to engage course participants in the practice of coaching skills.

Award Number: 
0732495
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Fri, 09/30/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Eduation Alliance at Brown University

Science Learning: Integrating Design, Engineering and Robotics (SLIDER)

This project is developing and implementing a rigorous eighth grade physical science program that utilizes engineering design, LEGO™ robotics and mechanics, and a problem-based learning approach to teach mechanics, waves, and energy.

Award Number: 
0918618
Funding Period: 
Thu, 10/01/2009 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Gordon Kingsley
Full Description: 

SLIDER is a 5 year $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Discovery Research K-12 (DR-K12) program. During the grant period (10/1/09 -9/30/14), the SLIDER program will seek to answer the question: "What effects do robotics, engineering design, and problem-based inquiry science have on student learning and academic engagement in 8th grade physical science classes?"

The Team:

Georgia Tech faculty and staff from a number of academic units (CEISMC, CETL, Math, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering & Computing) and a national-level advisory board.  

Teachers, principals and school system administrators representing Fulton County Schools, Cobb County Schools  and Emanuel County Schools and the Georgia Department of Education.

Richard Millman  PI
Marion Usselman  Co - PI
Donna Llewellyn Co-PI for Research

Program Goals:

  1. Design and implement a problem-based robotics curriculum as a context for 8th graders to learn physics and reasoning skills, and as a way to increase student engagement, motivation, aptitude, creativity and STEM interest.
  2. Conduct research to determine the effectiveness of the program across all curriculum development parameters.
  3. Determine how students engage the material across ethnic, socio- cultural, gender and geographic (rural, urban, and suburban) lines.
  4. Measure the “staying power” of the experience as students move from middle to high school.

The Method:

Using “backwards design” strategies, the SLIDER curriculum development team at CEISMC will create inquiry-based engineering design instructional materials for 8th grade Physical Science that use robotics as the learning tool and that are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). The materials will employ problem-based challenges that require students to design, program, investigate, and reflect, and then revise their product or solution. They will consist of three 4-6 week modules that cover the physics concepts of Mechanics (force, motion, simple machines), Waves (light, sound, magnetism, electricity, heat), and Energy.   CEISMC will also design the teacher professional development necessary for effective implementation of the curriculum.

Learning to RECAST Students' Causal Assumptions in Science Through Interactive Multimedia Professional Development Tools

This project produced and is testing a website with tools to help teachers identify when students’ science learning may be limited by how they construe the underlying causal structure of the concepts. It demonstrates students’ difficulties and a pedagogical approach to help them recast their explanations to align them with the causal structure in the scientifically accepted explanations. The site focuses on middle school with in-depth examples in density and ecosystems.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0455664
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2005 to Sat, 04/30/2011
Project Evaluator: 
EDC
Full Description: 

Understanding the nature of causality is critical to learning a range of science concepts from “everyday science” to the science of complexity. The Understandings of Consequence (UC) Project, funded by NSF, established that students hold default assumptions about the nature of causality that hinder their science learning and that curriculum designed to restructure students’ causal assumptions while learning the science leads to deeper understanding. In this project, the UC team and the Science Media Group (SMG) of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics collaborated in a five-year iterative design process to create interactive, multimedia professional development website. It has tools to guide middle school physics and biology teachers in assessing the structure of their students’ scientific explanations and in using existing curricula and developing their own curriculum to restructure or RECAST students’ understandings to fit with scientifically accepted explanations. It includes a range of formats including: documentary footage of real-life classrooms; interviews with teachers describing challenges and obstacles they faced introducing the curricula, how these were overcome, and, the benefits they obtained from using the materials; comments by students, which demonstrate the wide range of student prior thinking about specific causal forms as embedded in the science concepts; discussion questions, suggested hands-on activities, and short videotaped “content explorations,” examples of student written work and journals; design guides and questions to help teachers understand the features of and how to design RECAST activities, assessments, and assessment rubrics related to causal understanding in science. We are evaluating the site with 60 teachers and are iteratively improving it.

Pages

Subscribe to Curricula/Activities