Modeling Engineered Levers for the 21st Century Teaching of STEM (Collaborative Research: Schunn)

This project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1027629
Funding Period: 
September 1, 2010 to August 31, 2014
Project Evaluator: 
Bill Bickel
Full Description: 

Research in biology has become increasingly mathematical, but high school courses in biology use little mathematics. To address this concern, this project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials build on existing work on the use of model eliciting activities and focus science and technology instruction on high-stakes weaknesses in mathematics and science. They address the scaling issue as part of the core design work by developing small units of curriculum that can be applied by early adopters in each context. The materials will undergo many rounds of testing and revision in the early design process with at least ten teachers each time. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Learning of science content will be measured through the use of existing instruments in wide use. Existing scales of task values, achievement goals and interest are used to measure student motivation. The work performed is guided by a content team; a scaling materials team; a scaling research team; the PI team of a cognitive scientist, a robotics educator, and a mathematics educator specializing in educational reform at scale; and the summative evaluation team lead by an external evaluator.

There is great interest in understanding whether integrated STEM education can interest more students in STEM disciplines. The focus on mathematics integrated with engineering in the context of a science topic is interesting and novel and could contribute to our understanding of integrating mathematics, engineering and science. The development team includes a cognitive scientist, a mathematics educator, teachers and scientists. The issues and challenges of interdisciplinary instruction will be investigated.

Project Materials