Educating the Imagination: A Studio Design for Transformative Science Learning

Educating the Imagination will develop a studio approach to science for underrepresented high school students. The approach integrates scientific and artistic habits of mind and forms of engagement for meaningful learning in water-related sciences. Youth will a) investigate significant water-related phenomena, b) develop creative responses to the phenomena that foster new understandings and possibilities for action, and c) exhibit their responses community-wide to involve others in re-imagining water locally and globally.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1135120
Funding Period: 
Saturday, October 1, 2011 to Monday, September 30, 2013
Full Description: 

TERC, in collaboration with the Boston Arts Academy is developing an innovative studio learning environment for students in grades 7-9. This pilot project focuses on object-centered inquiry about water and water-related problems of local and global significance. The project promotes student learning through multi-faceted studies involving hydrology, history, health, digital media, web-based artifact generation, real world data collection, interactions with scientists and artists, and community exhibitions of student work. The primary goal of the Educating the Imagination project is to develop a more effective model for engaging and improving the science learning and achievement of underrepresented urban students.

Studio learning intentionally integrates experimentation with practices of analysis, interpretation, critique of work and conceptual development. During a four week summer studio program, students, guided by teachers and scientists, will produce research-based projects about water and create plans to exhibit their work in the Boston area during the school year. Students will be assessed along multiple dimensions ranging from the depth of their understanding of water science ideas, their ability to make claims and arguments, their use of multiple tools and modes of representation, and the quality of their presentations. Over a two year period researchers will collect data on the studio design model and student learning to determine which aspects of the studio are effective in engaging students in object-oriented inquiry related to important water science ideas and problems.

Educating the Imagination will provide valuable insights about the studio design model and its application to promote science learning. In addition, this project directly addresses the problem of inequality in opportunities to learn and participate in science by developing and testing an innovative, non-traditional learning model with underrepresented urban students. The results of this project could significantly change how we think about and structure STEM learning environments in urban settings.

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