The Learning Design Group at the University of California, Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science focuses its research and development on the interface of science with literacy. Over the past 15 years, The Learning Design Group has received several grants, all focused on better understanding and capitalizing on the synergies between science and literacy.
MSPGP worked with college faculty and expert teachers to design and implement comprehensive research-based strategies to improve learning for secondary and post-secondary students. Over five years, the MSPGP brought together 4,000 teachers and faculty from 46 school districts and 13 institutions of higher education in the Greater Philadelphia region. The MSPGP utilized a novel "Core Connector" organizational structure that provided a way to facilitate and grow partnerships between grades 6-12 teachers and administrators and college faculty. To design and assess the progress of mathematics and science programs and college/university pre-service programs, the MSPGP used a five-stage "On the Road to Reform" rubric for school districts and another specifically for colleges and universities to customize project activities to each circumstance. Aggregated data does not show an overall impact of MSPGP on its partner institutions; however, there were stunning cases of sustained personal and institutional transformations. The MSPGP research team has studied these in relation to the cultural rubrics and the implementation of the Core Connector model and learned important new lessons about school improvement K-16. Under the auspices of the newly formed non-profit corporation The 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education which arose directly out of MSPGP work, a variety of new projects and proposals have been developed which take lessons learned through MSPGP to a higher level of research and development.
The Developmental Technology (DevTech) Research Group examines the role of computational technologies that are developmentally appropriate for young children and that help them learn about new things in new ways. DevTech is exploring the notion of what is "developmentally appropriate" in the light of the opportunities for inquiry and active construction of knowledge offered by new technologies that engage children in programming activities. Through NSF funding, the DevTech Research Group has created a low-cost developmentally appropriate robotics construction kit for children in grades PreK2 called KIWI (Kids Invent With Imagination). To accompany KIWI, DevTech developed the CHERP programming language, which allows users to create both physical and graphical computer programs to control the robot, as well as several curriculum units. The DevTech Research Group is also collaborating with the MIT Media Lab to develop Scratch Jr., a software designed to engage children in grades K2 in programming and storytelling. Scratch Jr. will be released as a free app in early 2014.
Horizon Research, Inc. (HRI), with funding from the National Science Foundation, conducted the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education (NSSME). The 2012 NSSME, the fifth in a series of surveys dating back to 1977, was designed to provide up-to-date information and to identify trends in the areas of teacher background and experience, curriculum and instruction, and the availability and use of instructional resources.
The New Tech Network (NTN), a national nonprofit organization, engages with public school districts and charter school organizations to develop innovative schools. NTN schools are centered around a culture that empowers, teaching that engages, and technology that enables so that students graduate ready for college and career. Student achievement is the measure of our success.
This project investigated the scale-up of an innovative integration of technology, curriculum, and teacher professional development aimed at improving mathematics instruction in grades 7 and 8. The SimCalc approach integrates teacher professional development, curriculum and software called SimCalc MathWorlds.
Wheaton High School (WHS), a diverse suburban school located in Maryland just outside Washington, D.C., is organized into small learning communities called Academies, each of which has a college and career readiness focus. The Bioscience Academy and the Engineering Academy are State Certified Project Lead The Way (PLTW) programs. The Bioscience Academy has been recognized by the Washington Post as one of the top programs in the area and the Engineering Academy was recognized as one of the top 10 engineering programs in the country by PLTW. The Academy of Information Technology is part of the National Academy Foundation and serves students that are interested in computer programming and website development.
Engineering design is not simply a useful tool for teaching science and mathematics content, but a unique discipline in which science and mathematics are employed as tools for solving design challenges. The UTeachEngineering project at The University of Texas, in partnership with NASA, has undertaken to demonstrate how rigorous engineering content can be deployed in secondary classrooms by developing and piloting Engineer Your World, a year-long high school engineering course built on a foundation of solid research in the learning sciences, couched in the context of a rigorous engineering design process and scaffolded to build engineering skills and habits of mind.
In 2000, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), began work on the NSF-funded project The Tool Kit for Early Childhood Science Education. That work—a collaboration between teachers, professional developers, scientists, and science educators—resulted in the Young Scientist Series, a comprehensive curriculum designed to improve science teaching and learning for children ages 3–5. Each curriculum unit includes a teacher’s guide and multimedia professional development materials. The units include Discovering Nature with Young Children, Building Structures with Young Children, and Exploring Water with Young Children. According to Redleaf Press’s website, The Young Scientist Series “supports children’s early development of important science-inquiry skills, as well as early literacy and math skills. Comprehensive units on nature, structures, and water introduce children to lifelong critical-thinking abilities such as questioning, investigating, discussing, and formulating ideas and theories.” A second product of this work is a book for teachers, Worms, Shadows, and Whirlpools, which describes the nature and appropriate content of science for this age level along with illustrative classroom vignettes.
TJHSST is the product of a partnership between Fairfax County Public Schools and local business to improve education in science, mathematics, and technology. This unique public school offers a comprehensive program that focuses on scientific, mathematical, and technological fields. The core skills and values infused throughout the curriculum emphasize and promote critical inquiry and research, problem-solving skills, intellectual curiosity, and social responsibility. Requirements for the TJHSST diploma include the completion of an original engineering or experimental research project in an on-campus laboratory or off-site through a mentorship program at a government, corporate, or university research laboratory. TJHSST’s science and technology research laboratories include Astronomy and Astrophysics, Automation and Robotics; Biotechnology, Chemical Analysis, Communication Systems, Computer Systems, Computer Assisted Design, Energy Systems, Microelectronics, Neuroscience, Oceanography/Geophysical Systems, Optics and Modern Physics, and Prototyping and Engineering Materials. Selected outstanding research projects are published in TJHSST’s student-produced research journal. As the regional magnet Governor’s School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia, the school serves applicants from seven different participating school districts: Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, as well as the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, grants # 0822241, 1449550, 1650648, and 1743807. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.