NARST 2018

Atlanta, GA
March 10 – 13, 2018
Conference Website

The National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) is a worldwide organization of professionals committed to the improvement of science teaching and learning through research. Since its inception in 1928, NARST has promoted research in science education and the communication of knowledge generated by the research. The ultimate goal of NARST is to help all learners achieve science literacy. The theme of the 2018 annual international conference is “Re-Centering on Scientific Literacy in an Era of Science Mistrust and Misunderstanding.”

Monday, March 12

Strand 2: Science Learning: Contexts, Characteristics and Interactions
Promoting Secondary Students' Modeling Practice Using an Online Modeling Tool

Linking Agent-Based and Systems Dynamics Modeling Practices

Carolyn Staudt, Hee-Sun Lee

2:30–4:00 PM, Savannah B

Natural phenomena secondary school students learn in science class involve complex systems within which many elements interact to generate system-level outcomes. Examples of such phenomena include climate change, weather, ecosystems, evolution, and epidemics. Complex systems are modeled in three distinctive ways: (1) structure-function- behavior to create a system that carries out specific functions, (2) agent-based simulations to show system emergence, and (3) systems dynamics to track quantified resources throughout the system using stocks, flows, and feedback loops. While the structure-function- behavior approach is used to describe definite and intended system behaviors, agent-based and systems dynamics approaches are used to model indeterminate system behaviors. This paper addresses two research questions: (1) what epistemic and ontological differences exist between agent-based and systems dynamics modeling practices and (2) how high school students with and without domain specific knowledge link between the two practices to make sense of complex system behaviors.

Tuesday, March 13

Strand 10: Curriculum, Evaluation, and Assessment
Developing Curriculum for Middle and High School

Precipitating Change: Embedding Computational Thinking into the Middle School Science Classroom

Nanette Dietrich (Millersville University of Pennsylvania), Carolyn Staudt

8:30–10:00 AM, August 3

All students—but particularly STEM students—need to understand the role of computation and computational thinking within disciplinary problem solving. Opportunities to learn and apply computational thinking—the basis for all technology-based careers and skills—are absent from most students’ experiences. Yet there is no need for these opportunities to be inaccessible. With proper tools and approaches, compelling student experiences within science class can be imbued with fundamental computational thinking skills. This Precipitating Change project designs, develops, and pilots an innovative, technology-rich curriculum for middle school students that addresses critical NGSS-related science standards, engages students in an intriguing, ongoing inquiry-related investigation, and supports the development of key computational thinking skills. The project’s curriculum uses a phenomenon-based approach to teach computational thinking by engaging students in simulated weather scenarios using real weather station data to allow students to interact with scientifically valid weather forecasting models. Effectiveness of the project is measured by the curriculum’s ability to promote students’ acquisition of computational thinking skills and processes.

Strand 14: Environmental Education
Student Ideas and Voices Revealed Through Digital Technologies and Modeling

Using Watershed Modeling and Probeware to Teach Environmental Sustainability

Nanette Dietrich (Millersville University of Pennsylvania), Carolyn Staudt, Steven Kerlin (Stroud Water Research Center)

1:00–2:30 PM, Augusta 1

Teaching Environmental Sustainability – Model My Watershed (MMW) curricula and toolset situates student learning in the exploration and evaluation of the conditions of their local watershed using probe-ware and a scientifically valid watershed modeling application. Students analyze real data from national databases embedded into the MMW GIS platform, collect data from their schoolyard using digital probes linked to tablets or smartphones, and create and model changes in land cover and conservation practices in the inquiry-based activities. The study indicates that a place-based watershed modeling curriculum is an effective tool for increasing students’ understanding of watersheds, encouraging personal environmental action and promoting career interest.

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