News at Concord Consortium

The Concord Consortium is happy to announce the following new grants from the National Science Foundation.

Mining Large Data Sets from Energy3D

Mining Large Data Sets from Energy3D

With our open source Energy3D CAD tool, students design energy-efficient buildings while the software automatically logs the process. Now we will be able to mine large data sets from thousands of secondary students solving engineering design challenges with Energy3D.

In collaboration with Purdue University, we will use this “big data” to 1) identify common patterns of engineering design behaviors and habits of mind, 2) gauge the extent and effect of inquiry actions in a design process, 3) detect iterative design cycles, 4) measure the volume of the design space explored by a student, and 5) characterize a student’s divergent-convergent thinking process, which is critical to the development of creativity and innovation.

Constructive Chemistry

One of the most effective pedagogies in science education is to challenge students to design and construct something that performs a function, solves a problem or proves a hypothesis. Learning by design is a compelling way of engaging students. Our new “Constructive Chemistry” curriculum, based on our award-winning Molecular Workbench software, provides a graphical user interface for students to author scientifically accurate simulations. Students at Bowling Green State University and Dakota County Technical College are creating their own molecular simulations in response to questions and challenges.

New SimBuilding Game

The Concord Consortium and Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) are developing SimBuilding, an innovative set of simulation games for teaching building science. The software—available in English and Spanish—will support diagnostics, construction and operation games, each mapped to science concepts and practical skills related to real-world jobs. An intelligent tutor will offer instant feedback to direct gameplay based on student inputs.

Pilot tests will be conducted in four community colleges in New Mexico through SFCC’s Center of Excellence for Green Building and Energy Efficiency. Student data will be automatically logged and analyzed to reveal details of their learning.

Physical Science Assessments for NGSS

We are developing next-generation assessments that address a core idea in physical science—matter and its interactions—by integrating middle school chemistry content with two NGSS scientific practices, constructing explanations and developing and using models. Assessments will be iteratively designed and administered in middle school science classrooms to ensure usability. The work will include expert reviews of alignment with the NGSS to examine construct validity; cognitive analyses to examine cognitive, construct and diagnostic validity; and psychometric analyses to examine empirical validity.

Telepresence Opens Research Opportunities

A new project combines expertise in ethnography, education and technology at the Concord Consortium, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the Harvard Kennedy School and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. We are investigating how telepresence can transform STEM research and education by bringing meaningful research experiences to scientists and students otherwise unable to participate. Early career scientists pioneering the use of remote robotic vehicles (ROVs) and sensors will work with undergraduate students to explore greenhouse gases released from the ocean floor. Engineers aboard a ship in the Caribbean will support the ROVs while scientific observations, data analysis and research decisions will be conducted on shore.

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