Elementary School

Capacity Building in Computer Science

This exploratory project aims to develop a community of individuals and organizations working together to address critical issues in K-12 computer science education by broadening the awareness of the need for curriculum computer science standards, providing multiple levels of professional development, conducting and disseminating research in computer science education, and promoting this subject as a unique field of study in schools.

Award Number: 
0733379
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Thu, 12/31/2009

Online Science Teacher Professional Development: Optimization of Asynchronous Learning Models

This project is comparing and evaluating different models for the delivery of online professional development aimed at elementary science teachers. The focus is on asynchronous (anytime, anywhere) and minimally facilitated models, because these approaches hold promise for reaching large numbers of teachers in a cost-effective way. The research capitalizes on experiences with BCM's award-winning, high traffic website for educators, BioEd Online.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0723433
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010

Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) Professional Development Program: Scaling for Effectiveness

This is a full research and development project addressing challenge question: How can promising innovations be successfully implemented, sustained, and scaled in schools and districts? The promising innovation is the Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) professional development (PD) program, which supports 4th- and 5th-grade teachers in teaching concepts in biology (food webs), physical science (phase changes), and earth science (earth’s changing surface, weather).

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918277
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Project Evaluator: 
McREL
Full Description: 

Improving Science Learning in Inquiry-based Programs (Collaborative Research: Ward)

This project improves science learning by students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based programs. The project aims to achieve its goal by developing a computer program, My Science Tutor, which students will use immediately following classroom science investigations to reinforce and extend concepts embedded in the investigations. The program uses a lifelike animated character to engage students in guided learning activities and conversational tutorial dialogs that stimulate scientific reasoning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733323
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2007 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

 The main goal of the project is to improve science learning by students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based programs.  While programs like FOSS, STC and Insights have proven effective in improving science achievement within and across school districts, many children, especially underrepresented minorities and English language learners, fail to demonstrate proficiency on standardized tests of science achievement. The project aims to achieve its goal by developing a computer program, My Science Tutor, which students use following classroom science investigations to reinforce and extend concepts embedded in the investigations. The program uses a lifelike animated character to engage students in scaffolded guided learning activities and tutorial dialogs that stimulate scientific reasoning. Tutorial dialogs are based on a proven technique, Questioning the Author, that challenges students to learn and integrate new concepts with prior knowledge to construct enriched mental models that can be used to explain and predict scientific phenomena. The work aims to produce and demonstrate the effectiveness of tutorial dialogs produced by human experts trained to use the Questioning the Author method. To evaluate the intervention, we will compare learning gains on standardized tests of science achievement by fourth and fifth grade students randomly assigned to three groups: the computer treatment, human tutoring or business-as-usual classroom instruction. 

This study will contribute new knowledge about the influence and impact of well-designed learning tools that are designed to improve concept formation and critical thinking by elementary school students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based science programs.  The assessments should provide detailed insights about how learning tools designed to teach concepts through scaffolded learning and narrated animations, and to teach scientific reasoning through tutorial dialogs, influence the learning and achievement of elementary students.  The program will also contribute new knowledge to science about the effectiveness of tutorial dialogs incorporating advanced language technologies to emulate the learning strategies of expert tutors and the learning gains of their students.

Successful outcomes of the project will include a program that is effective in improving science learning and achievement of elementary school students. The program will provide an effective supplement to FOSS, a high quality science program that is already used by over two million students and one hundred thousand teachers in the U.S. A potentially profound advantage of the project arises from providing viable and accessible resources to help teachers implement high quality curricula in a much more individualized manner.  In effect, curricula such as FOSS have fared well despite the difficulties that teachers have in helping to map its rigorous content to individual leaner cognition and in providing routine and high quantity feedback to each individual mastering a challenging domain.  This project seeks to address this difficult problem by making such curricula more accessible, engaging and effective for each individual learner.

A Technology Exemplar: Post-textbook UDL Materials

This project is developing technology-rich science curriculum exemplars for grades 3-6 based on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. The project is testing the effectiveness of the approach and providing an exemplar that can inspire additional content and further development. A set of professional development materials to support teacher implementation of UDL science curriculum in the classroom is planned. Probes are used for lab investigations and computational models are used for experimentation in virtual environments.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0628242
Funding Period: 
Sun, 10/01/2006 to Thu, 09/30/2010
Project Evaluator: 
Barbara Buckley
Full Description: 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Elementary Science Materials use inquiry as the cornerstone for the development of elementary science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities. To give the degree of control over the learning environment that UDL requires, it is important that inquiry be brought under computer management. Students explore the real world using probes and simulated worlds using computational models. This gives students powerful tools in a software environment that allows the tools to be adapted to individuals.

Units were developed around four driving questions. Why are there clouds? What if there was no friction? What do plants eat? What is electricity? Each unit contains grade-appropriate (grades 3-4 and grades 5-6) hands-on, model-based, and probe-based activities with a wide range of alternatives for the way tools are used in the classroom, the materials are represented and communicated, and learning is assessed. These alternatives boil down to a series of software switches and sliders that teachers and students can control in order to individualize the learning experience.

Evolution Readiness: A Modeling Approach

This project uses computer-based models of interacting organisms and their environments to support a learning progression leading to an appreciation of the theory of evolution and evidence that supports it. The project has created a research-based curriculum centered on progressively complex models that exhibit emergent behavior. The project will help improve the teaching of complex scientific topics and provide a reliable means of directly assessing students' conceptual understanding and inquiry skills.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822213
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Philip Benincasa

Developing, Researching, and Scaling Up SmartGraphs

SmartGraphs activities run in a web browser; there is no software to download or install. SmartGraphs allows students to interact with on-screen graphs to learn about linear equations, the motion of objects, population dynamics, global warming, or other STEM topics that use scatter plots or line graphs. Teachers and students may also use and share existing activities, which are released under a Creative Commons license (see http://www.concord.org/projects/smartgraphs#curriculum).

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918522
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/15/2009 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Sigmund Abeles
Full Description: 

SmartGraphs is a project that studies the educational value of digital objects embedded in graphs that “know” about themselves and that provide scaffolding to students to help them learn about graphs and the concepts conveyed in graphs. As planned, digital Smart Graphs can be authored or customized by teachers and accept inputs from students’ responses, sketches, functions, models, and probes. The software analyzes the graphs for the kinds of features that experts recognize and then engages students in conversations that instruct and assess student knowledge.

The project is guided by collaboration between the Concord Consortium and the Pennsylvania State Department of Education Classrooms for the Future program, through which 140,000 laptop computers are deployed to serve 500,000 students. The development of Smart Graphs is based on extensive prior research about students’ use and understanding of graphs (TEEMSS II and Science Universal Design for Learning projects) at the Concord Consortium.

National Forum for Action on the Report of the National Math Panel

The Conference Board for the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to host a forum in Washington, DC designed to launch action for change in mathematics education based on the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. This forum will focus specifically on the following four areas: teachers and teacher education, learning processes, instructional material, and standards of evidence—research policies and mechanisms.

Award Number: 
0848681
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/15/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010

Fossil Finders: Using Fossils to Teach About Evolution, Inquiry and Nature of Science

This project engages children in classrooms across the country in an authentic investigation of Devonian fossils. Goals include supporting children in the use of evidence in constructing explanations of natural phenomena, and motivating culturally and linguistically diverse groups of children to engage in learning science. Deliverables include development and testing of an interactive website where children learn how to identify the fossils they find and add their own data to an emerging database.

Award Number: 
1249157
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Mon, 12/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Ohio Research and Evaluation Center

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.

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