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Biology Levers Out of Mathematics (BLOOM)

Christian Schunn, University of Pittsburgh

The Next Generation Science Standards highlight understanding and application as well as the integration of mathematics and computational tools into science. The gap between these goals and classroom reality is particularly salient in high school biology, where memorization is king and mathematics/computational tools are largely absent. In this session, a new approach to teaching biology involving engaging engineering design challenges that students solve using a combination of inexpensive hands-on materials, basic mathematics, and simple simulations will be presented.


About the Presenter:
Christian Schunn, Professor, University of Pittsburgh
Christian Schunn is a senior scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center and a professor of psychology, learning sciences and policy, and intelligent systems at the University of Pittsburgh. He directs a number of research projects in science, mathematics, and engineering education. One of his current NSF-funded grants, BLOOM (Biology Levers Out Of Mathematics), brings mathematics as a thinking and learning tool into high school biology instruction through the use of engineering-based modules focused on core biology topics. The modules, designed for large-scale urban settings, will be developed by a collaborative team that brings expertise in learning sciences, mathematics education, and biology. The project studies the ways in which teacher materials and various Web-based tools can support high-quality implementation at scale. In the past, Schunn has developed curriculum materials that used engineering design projects to teach core high school science concepts for use in urban middle schools and high schools, including biology, chemistry, and physics. He has also worked for many years with the Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University on the design and evaluation of robotics curricula. Schunn was made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011, and served on the National Research Council/National Academy of Engineering committees for K–12 Engineering Education and K–12 Engineering Education Standards. He is also the current chair of the executive of the International Society for Design and Development in Education. Schunn received his BS in Psychology from McGill University and both his MS and PhD in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University.