In 2018, we made an impact with 11 articles published in researcher and teacher practitioner journals that showcase the state of the field in STEM educational technology. Learn how automated scoring during formative assessment can diagnose and enhance students’ argumentation skills (#4), how modeling and simulation on a CAD platform can be used to teach science concepts and inform design decisions (#6), why quality early STEM experiences are critical (#10), and more. Plus get free activities for elementary (#8), middle (#1), and high school students (#2, #7, #9).
1. Why do fishermen need forests? Developing a project-based learning unit with an engaging driving question
How important is a driving question in project-based learning? Plenty! Read about project-based learning (PBL) and the importance of a meaningful driving question and engaging anchoring phenomenon for promoting students’ learning, eliciting a sense of wonderment, and providing coherence to the curricular unit. As students investigate the driving question, their experiences should build toward three-dimensional learning. This middle school unit explores the question “Why do fishermen need forests?”
Bielik, T., Damelin, D., & Krajcik, J. (2018). Why do fishermen need forests? Developing a project-based learning unit with an engaging driving question. Science Scope, 41(6), 64-72.
2. Our watershed: Students use data and models to make a difference in their own school yard
Science becomes engaging when students know that what they learn in the classroom relates to their own lives and communities. In the Teaching Environmental Sustainability–Model My Watershed (TES-MMW) project students undertake field studies and use an online app to design virtual solutions to improve the hydrology of their school yard. Students change land cover and implement conservation practices in Model My Watershed to redesign their virtual school yard to improve watershed health. Bonus: they become engaged citizens along the way.
Marcum-Dietrich, N., Kerlin, S., Staudt, C & Daniels, M. (2018). Our watershed: Students use data and models to make a difference in their own school yard. The Science Teacher, 85(2), 39-46.
3. Teacher implementation and the impact of game-based science curriculum materials
How can teachers use digital games effectively in their classrooms? To understand the contributions and challenges of teacher implementation of digital games, we studied replacing existing high school biology genetics lessons with Geniverse, an immersive, game-like learning environment. We engaged 48 high school teachers and 2,000 students over a three- to six-week period. When Geniverse was implemented as designed, student learning of genetics content was significantly greater than in the comparison group using existing genetics lessons.
Wilson, C., Reichsman, F., Mutch-Jones, K., Gardner, A., Kowalski, S., Lord, T., & Dorsey, C. (2018). Teacher implementation and the impact of game-based science curriculum materials. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 27(4), 285-305.
4. Validation of automated scoring for formative assessment of students’ scientific argumentation in climate change
We developed a computer-based formative assessment to support secondary students as they construct and revise scientific arguments in the context of climate change. The assessment automatically scores their arguments and provides feedback to both students and teachers. Such automated scores and feedback encouraged students to revise their answers; their scientific argumentation skills improved as a result. Preliminary evidence supports the use of automated scoring during formative assessment to diagnose and enhance students’ argumentation skills.
Mao, L., Liu, O. L., Roohr, K., Belur, V., Mulholland, M., Lee, H.-S., & Pallant, A. (2018). Validation of automated scoring for formative assessment of students’ scientific argumentation in climate change. Educational Assessment, 23(2), 121-138.
5. Teaching with interactive computer-based simulation models: Instructional dilemmas and opportunities in the High-Adventure Science project
We examined instructional dilemmas and opportunities that emerged when students worked with interactive computer‐based simulation models during the High‐Adventure Science project. Designed for grades 7–12, each curricular unit addresses scientific questions in Earth and environmental science currently being investigated by scientists. Descriptive findings indicate that a designed digital curriculum with carefully sequenced interactive models has benefits but creates instructional challenges; teacher and student roles are often flipped during such a curriculum; and teachers may need to shift their instructional approach and find new ways to make digital learning experiences relevant and compelling.
Mutch-Jones, K., Gasca, S., Pallant, A., & Lee, H.-S. (2018). Teaching with interactive computer-based simulation models: Instructional dilemmas and opportunities in the High-Adventure Science project. School Science and Mathematics, 118(5), 190-200.
6. Learning and teaching engineering design through modeling and simulation on a CAD platform
A theoretical perspective demonstrates how modeling and simulation on a CAD platform can be used to teach science concepts and inform design decisions. We focused on the educational implications of three recent advancements in CAD technologies: system integration, machine learning, and computational design. Students use our Energy3D CAD software to design energy‐efficient buildings that harness solar energy, taking advantage of the software’s modeling, simulation, and data mining capabilities. Preliminary results from students in a physics classroom and an online course shed light on the effects of these features on guiding students to design cost‐effective solar power systems.
Xie, C., Schimpf, C., Chao, J. Nourian, S., & Massicotte, J. (2018). Learning and teaching engineering design through modeling and simulation on a CAD platform. Computer Applications in Engineering Education, 26(4),824-840.
7. Data-driven inquiry in the PBL Classroom: Linking maps, graphs, and tables in biology
Students’ ability to analyze and interpret data is one of the eight science and engineering practices identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. This article features a shiver of sharks and data about those sharks and other marine animals, plus the perfect way to get your feet wet with data analysis: Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) and Ocean Tracks. Learn how to engage students in the analysis and interpretation of data sets about marine predators.
Finzer, W., Busey, A., & Kochevar, R. (2018). Data-driven inquiry in the PBL classroom: Linking maps, graphs, and tables in biology. The Science Teacher, 86(1), 28-43.
8. Engineering a model of the Earth as a water filter
Teaching students about the water cycle is a staple of elementary science instruction, but it often leaves out the essential process by which water is naturally filtered by the Earth, known as infiltration. We describe ways our Water SCIENCE project helps students learn that as water travels through the Earth’s layers, it’s cleaned. By constructing simple stackable filters with cups and various filtering agents such as charcoal, soil, and gravel, young students were able to model the Earth’s natural processes and compare the most successful filtering agents.
Kilpatrick, J., Marcum-Dietrich, N., Wallace, J., & Staudt, C. (2018). Engineering a model of the Earth as a water filter. Science and Children, 56(3), 73-77.
9. Solarize your school: A solar energy system design challenge
Find out how high school students can design and evaluate efficient and affordable solar power systems—even for their own school—with a 10-day engineering project using Energy3D CAD software and other free tools. Students can create their own building design or use Google Earth Pro to measure existing building and rooftop dimensions and then use Energy3D to quickly model, analyze, test, and evaluate multiple solar power designs for performance. Students learn about STEM concepts such as graphical interpretation and data analysis, modeling techniques, the path and angle of the sun, day and night cycles, as well as collaboration and communication.
Chao, J., Xie, C., Massicotte, J., Schimpf, C., Lockwood, J., Huang, X., & Beaulieu, C. (2018). Solarize your school: A solar energy system design challenge. The Science Teacher, 86(4), 40-47.
10. Considerations for STEM education from pre-K through grade 3
This new brief describes the importance of quality early STEM experiences in providing a critical foundation for learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in ways that facilitate later learning and that are called for by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Next Generation Science Standards, and International Standards for Technology in Education. The report provides a vision for early learning in STEM for all students with research-based recommendations to promote broad and deep learning.
Sarama, J., Clements, D., Nielsen, N., Blanton, M., Romance, N., Hoover, M., Staudt, C., Baroody, A., McWayne, C., & McCulloch, C. (2018). Considerations for STEM education from pre-K through grade 3. Waltham, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.
11. Shifting the balance: Engaging students in using a modeling tool to learn about ocean acidification
Modeling is one of the core science and engineering practices in the Next Generation Science Standards. We present the advantages and challenges experienced by students and teachers while engaging in a curricular unit on ocean acidification using the SageModeler systems modeling tool. Results indicate that integrating SageModeler in the unit facilitates students’ interest and engagement in environmental responsibility and focused students’ attention toward human involvement and impact on the environment. Challenges were related to the complexity of using the modeling tool and working with the resulting graphs and charts.
Bielik, T., Damelin, D., Krajcik, J. S. (2019). Shifting the balance: Engaging students in using a modeling tool to learn about ocean acidification, EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education.