High School

Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the American Museum of Natural History

Principal Investigator: 

Wallace, J. (2014, March). Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the American Museum of Natural History. Poster presented at the Noyce Northeast Regional Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

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Discipline / Topic: 

Investigating science teaching core practices in high-needs urban settings

Principal Investigator: 

Howes, E., & Wallace, J. (2017, July). Investigating science teaching core practices in high-needs urban settings. Poster presented at the 2017 NOYCE Summit, Washington, DC.

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Multimedia Immersion Inspires STEM Learning

This project will develop, pilot, and evaluate a nine-week STEM-rich multimedia production course for high school students called Multimedia Immersion (MI). The MI course will engage teams of students to develop a personally and socially relevant storyline that guides their use of accessible audio and video technologies to create a five-minute animated video. To develop student STEM experience and provide technical support, the project will provide guidance and learning experiences in engineering (e.g., criteria, constraints, optimization, tradeoffs), science (e.g.

Award Number: 
1720964
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

The Multimedia Immersion (MI) project will develop, pilot, and evaluate a nine-week STEM-rich multimedia production course for high school students. MI will make important contributions to the field through its efforts to design and evaluate the promises and challenges of a nine-week multimedia curriculum in multiple urban high schools. The MI course will engage teams of students to develop a personally and socially relevant storyline that guides their use of accessible audio and video technologies to create a five-minute animated video. To develop student STEM experience and provide technical support, the project will provide guidance and learning experiences in engineering (e.g., criteria, constraints, optimization, tradeoffs), science (e.g. sound, light, energy, mechanics) and multimedia technologies (e.g., computer based audio production, video editing and visualizations through animatics (i.e., shooting a succession of storyboards with a soundtrack).

Because the curriculum situates engineering and science learning in the context of multimedia production, there are natural synergies with several existing high school courses including engineering design, audio/video media production, and multimedia technology. Although these courses are typically electives in high school, developing a 5-minute animated short on a topic of interest may encourage girls and students from underrepresented groups to select this course over other electives. MI will impact 10 teachers and approximately 250 high school students per year. The project will result in the following resources: nine-week curricular unit (multimedia, science, engineering); assessments to monitor student learning of science, engineering and technology (design logs); and research on changes in student knowledge, interest). Project resources will be disseminated to teachers, researchers, and curriculum and professional development providers via conference presentations, publications, and online webinars.

The MI project builds on student familiarity and interest in music, video and technology to promote an: (1) understanding of engineering design and physics and (2) an appreciation of the fundamental role of STEM in popular culture. Project evaluation will be conducted using student surveys and an examination of work products in conjunction with implementation challenges and successes to generate evidence for the feasibility and utility of a high school multimedia course that explicitly addresses science and engineering learning. Project evaluation will use student design logs as a window into student design processes and conceptual understanding. Student design logs are an essential feature of MI curriculum design. With an appropriate structure, these design logs can inform teaching, afford an opportunity for students to reflect on their own work, and provide evidence of student thinking and learning for assessment purposes. Using student design logs as a window into students' design process and conceptual understanding is an important contribution to the engineering education community which has few options for measuring student knowledge in ways that are consistent with the hands-on, iterative nature of the design process.

Integrating Chemistry and Earth Science

This project will design, develop, and test a new curriculum unit for high school chemistry courses that is organized around the question, "How does chemistry shape where I live?" The new unit will integrate relevant Earth science data, scientific practices, and key urban environmental research findings with the chemistry curriculum to gain insights into factors that support the approach to teaching and learning advocated by current science curriculum standards.

Award Number: 
1721163
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/15/2017 to Wed, 07/31/2019
Full Description: 

This Integrating Chemistry and Earth science (ICE) project will design, develop, and test a new curriculum unit for high school chemistry courses that is organized around the question, "How does chemistry shape where I live?" The new unit will integrate relevant Earth science data, scientific practices, and key urban environmental research findings with the chemistry curriculum to gain insights into factors that support the approach to teaching and learning advocated by current science curriculum standards. The overarching goal of the project is to develop teacher capacity to teach and evaluate student abilities to use the practices of scientists and concepts from Earth science and chemistry to understand important phenomena in their immediate, familiar environments. The project has the potential to serve as a model for how to make cutting edge science directly accessible to all students. The project is a collaborative effort that engages scientists, science education researchers, curriculum developers, school curriculum and instruction leaders, and science teachers in the longer term challenge of infusing Earth science concepts and practices across the core high school science courses.

Current guidelines and standards for science education promote learning that engages students in three interrelated dimensions: disciplinary core ideas, scientific practices, and crosscutting ideas. This project is guided by the hypothesis that when provided sustained opportunities to engage in three-dimensional learning experiences, in an integrated Earth science and chemistry context, students will improve in their ability to demonstrate the coordination of disciplinary core ideas, scientific practices, and crosscutting concepts when solving problems and developing explanations related to scientific phenomena. This project will employ a design based research approach, and during the two development-enactment-analysis-and-redesign cycles, the project team will collect student assessment data, teacher interview data, observational data from lessons, teacher surveys, and reflective teacher logbooks. These collected data will provide information about how teachers implement the lessons, what students do during the lessons, and what students learn from them that will lead to better design and a better understanding of student learning. This information will be used to inform the modification of lessons from cycle to cycle, and to inform the professional development materials for teachers. The research agenda for the project is guided by the following questions: 1. What are the design features of ICE lessons that support teachers in enacting three-dimensional instruction within the context of their classroom? 2. What are the design features of embedded three-dimensional assessments that yield useful classroom data for teachers and researchers regarding their students' abilities to integrate core ideas, scientific practices, and crosscutting concepts? 3. What is the nature of student learning related to disciplinary core ideas, scientific practices, and crosscutting concepts that results from students' engagement in ICE lesson sets? 4. What differences emerge in student engagement and learning outcomes for ICE lessons that incorporate local phenomena or data sets as compared to lessons that do not? 5. What contextual factors (i.e., school context, administrative support, time constraints, etc.) influence teachers' implementation of three-dimensional instruction embedded within ICE lessons?


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Integrating Chemistry and Earth Science (ICE)

Presenter(s): Alan Berkowitz, Vonceil Anderson, Bess Caplan, Kevin Garner, & Jonathon Grooms


Engaging Students in Scientific Practices: Evaluating Evidence and Explanation in Secondary Earth and Space Science

This project will develop, implement, test, and revise instructional approaches and materials for high school students that focus on the links between scientific evidence and alternative explanations of phenomena relating to Earth and space education. Students will learn to construct diagrams showing the links between explanatory models of natural phenomena and lines of evidence, and then evaluate the plausibility of various alternative explanations for events.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721041
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2017 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

This project will develop, implement, test, and revise instructional approaches and materials for high school students that focus on the links between scientific evidence and alternative explanations of phenomena relating to Earth and space education. Students will examine alternative explanations for natural phenomena associated with extreme weather events, freshwater resource availability, and related topics in learning how to evaluate scientifically valid lines of evidence and explanation. Students will learn to construct diagrams showing the links between explanatory models of natural phenomena and lines of evidence, and then evaluate the plausibility of various alternative explanations for events. It is expected that engagement in these activities will help students gain proficiency in model-based reasoning, critical thinking, planning and analyzing scientifically valid investigations, constructing plausible explanations, engaging in collaborative argumentation, and critically evaluating scientific information.

This 4-year Design and Development project will examine use of Model-Evidence Link (MEL) diagrams that are intended to help students cognitively construct mental scaffolds that assist their engagement in the practices of critical evaluation, plausibility appraisal, and knowledge construction related to science topics that are considered by some as controversial. Prior research has demonstrated the potential educational outcomes of using MEL diagrams, but this project will extend the previous work by examining an approach where students construct their own MEL diagrams (build-a-MELs, or baMELs). The project will examine the use of both pre-constructed MELs and baMELs for effectiveness in promoting student engagement in scientific reasoning and practices. The project will employ design-based research methodologies in pursuing answers to three research questions: (1) Do baMEL activities tested in multiple high school classroom settings promote critical evaluation, plausibility reappraisal, and  scientifically accurate knowledge construction about controversial Earth and space science topics? (2) How do these additional baMELs differ from pre-constructed MELs in promoting critical evaluation, plausibility reappraisal, and knowledge construction? And (3) To what extent does repeated use of both pre-constructed MELs and baMELs result in student engagement of scientific practices (i.e., asking critical questions, using model-based reasoning, planning and analyzing scientifically valid investigations, constructing plausible explanations, engaging in collaborative argumentation, and critically evaluating scientific information)? The project will engage high school students taking Earth and space classes in selected schools of Georgia, New Jersey, and within Philadelphia. Teacher professional development opportunities associated with the project will include summer institutes, classroom supports, and mentoring sessions.

Building a Community of Science Teacher Educators to Prepare Novices for Ambitious Science Teaching

This conference will bring together a group of teacher educators to focus on preservice teacher education and a shared vision of instruction called ambitious science teaching. It is a critical first step toward building a community of teacher educators who can collectively share and refine strategies, tools, and practices for preparing preservice science teachers for ambitious science teaching.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1719950
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/01/2017 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

There is a growing consensus among science teacher educators of a need for a shared, research-based vision of accomplished instructional practice, and for teacher education pedagogies that can effectively prepare preservice science teachers to support the science learning of students from all backgrounds. This conference will bring together a group of teacher educators to focus on preservice teacher education and a shared vision of instruction called ambitious science teaching. This conference is a critical first step toward building a community of teacher educators who can collectively share and refine strategies, tools, and practices for preparing preservice science teachers for ambitious science teaching. The conference has two goals. The first goal is to develop a shared vision and language about effective pedagogy of science teacher preparation, focusing on ambitious science teaching and practice-based approaches to science teacher preparation. The second goal is to initiate a professional community that can generate, test, revise, and disseminate a set of resources (curriculum materials, tools, videos, models of teacher educator pedagogies, etc.) to support teacher educators.

There are immediate and long-term broader impacts that will result from this conference. One immediate impact is that this conference will set forth an actionable research agenda for the participants and the field to take up around ambitious science teaching and practice-based teacher education. Such an agenda will help shape new work, involving institutional collaborations,teacher preparation programs, and national organizations. Such an outcome has the potential to immediately impact the work of the conference participants and their own teacher preparation programs. In the long-term, this conference provides an opportunity for the participants to consider how to use ambitious science teaching to address issues of equity and social justice in science education and schools. In addition, the broader impacts of this conference will be to spread a vision of science teaching and practice-based teacher preparation in which students' ideas and experiences are the raw material of teachers' work.

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