Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry

ITSI-SUThe Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry project engages students in STEM activities through the integrated use of technologies that include modeling, computational thinking, and real-time data acquisition. This comprehensive project will assist teachers in preparing diverse students for STEM careers by engaging them in exciting, inquiry-based science projects.

Students are engaged in practices that are essential for learning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through both inquiry and design.

Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry is a scale up of the highly successful ITSI project and is meant to reach a greater number of elementary, middle and high school science teachers. This comprehensive innovative technologies project will assist teachers in preparing diverse students for careers in STEM by engaging them in exciting, inquirybased science activities that use computational models and real-time data acquisition.

Students interact by drawing prediction graphs, collecting real-time data with sensors, answering open-response questions, capturing snapshots of their work with interactive models and digital microscopes, relating their activity to STEM careers, drawing conclusions based on their findings, etc. All exemplar activities were designed to have students engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate their work (the 5E model).

An authoring system allows non-programmers to revise existing activities or create and share new ones. The list of available customizable activities keeps growing, and focuses on:

  • Engineering
  • Life Science
  • Earth & Space Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Math

The portal is open and available to all. If you have any questions please contact

Principal Investigator

Carolyn Staudt

Project Inquiries

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One of the exciting things about this opportunity is the chance to be involved throughout the entire process of initiating, implementing and incorporating the concept embodied in this project. The future of technology, the Internet, and the use of computers in the classroom will be nothing less than spectacular. The impact a project such as this could have on education in the \'global village\' is enormous.

— Dana Freeman, Osborne High School

National Science Foundation (NSF) Logo

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-0929540. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Beginning in the summer of 2011, research on ITSI focuses on four questions:

  1. Did students using ITSI materials increase their understanding of standards-based content?
  2. To what extent is there evidence of inquiry-based teaching in the classroom?
  3. Does the professional development design influence student learning?
  4. Did students using ITSI materials have increased interest in STEM, in STEM careers, and in the use of technology-based STEM tools?

Data to answer the questions come from multiple sources. There are pre- and post-tests for students for each of the ITSI units. A modified version of the Relevance of Science Education (ROSE) survey is being administered before and after students use ITSI materials. Student data are logged as they use the ITSI materials, providing another source of data.

The independent variables include the school, grade level of the students, amount of use of the materials, and others. The dependent variables are student content gains, inquiry gains, changes in STEM interest, and changes in STEM career aspirations.

ITSI has recruited teachers from Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, and Virginia to participate in a research study each year since 2010. Participating research teachers are a part of an online educational community where they have access to outstanding science exemplars. They are able to create and modify activities based on their own curriculum and objectives. They receive over 75 hours of lab-based activities in engineering, physical, earth, and life sciences for grades 3-12 and full support for classroom implementation. To date, over 200 teachers and 5,000 students have used ITSI as part of research, in addition to the hundreds of teachers who have used ITSI activities on their own.

Pre-test and post-test results showed significant learning gains for students in topics such as habitat & life cycle and senses (elementary); motion, phase changes, inheritance, and photosynthesis (middle school); protein structures, gas laws, and stoichiometry (high school).

Please join the ITSI Professional Learning Community in Schoology ( Once you sign up or log in, please contact us at to receive the group access code.

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Help Contents


Four steps to Getting Started

1. Launch the Portal

Click here to watch the video on 'Launching the Portal'.

Begin by launching the portal with the orange button.

If you're a teacher and it's your first time here, sign up for access as a teacher. (If you have already created an account then enter your Username and Password and click 'SUBMIT').

You’ll need to enter your first name, your last name and an e-mail account that you can access at school. Then select your school from the drop down menu.

Your log in will be your username that you use to access your account.

It is important that you create a password that you can remember.

Please tell us how you heard about Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry using the final field on the registration form.

When you are done submit your information.

Thank you for signing up. In the activation e-mail you receive, your username will be confirmed and an activation link provided to complete your registration as a teacher.

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2. Create a Class

Click here to watch the video on 'Creating a Class'.
Click here to watch the video on 'Editing a Class'.

Once you have successfully logged into ITSI, you can begin creating classes. Click on 'Create A Class' in the left-hand column.

First, name the class. Then create a class word that is unique to the class and school. For example, you might want to incorporate a school mascot. Once a class word is in the system it is taken.

From there, you can scroll through the list of activities. To select an activity for your students, click on the check box next to the activity.

When you are done selecting your activities, you can save this class.

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3. Work within Portal

In the orange bar under the name of the class you just created there are two options.

Preview Activities You can preview the class to see how it will appear to your students.

You can also use the 'Edit' button to return to the page you used to create the class and edit the information and/or assign more activities.

Click on 'Save this Class' to keep your changes if you have edited the class with the 'Edit' button.

At the top of the activity there are five options, four on the left and one on the right.

Print Activities Under the PRINT option there are several options depending on what you want to print. Keep in mind that student work is under the REPORT link and not under the print link. From the PRINT link you can print the individual sections of the activity.

Run Activities Under the RUN option you can "preview the activity as a student" or "run in teacher mode". This can be used to help you prepare to assist the students as they work through the activity.

Click here to watch the video on 'Reports'.

Report Activities When you are logged in as a teacher and viewing a class, at the top of each activity there are some options. Under the PRINT option you can print individual sections of the activity. Under the RUN option you can PREVIEW AS A STUDENT or RUN IN TEACHER MODE.

By clicking on "Report" you will be able to see your students' responses. This is only viewable if your students have actually already completed the activity.

Clicking on "Show Responses" will let you see what students answered and if they did not answer the questions. You can also hide this information.

This information can be printed by clicking on PRINT THIS to print exactly what you have displayed on the page or PRINT ALL USERS to create individual reports for each student.

When you are done, close the page that opened.

If you do not want any students to see the activity, you may deactivate the activity. This is helpful if you have students that would go back and do old activities.

Select Activities By clicking the DEACTIVATE button you will remove the activity from the students view. The link will change from to However, the activity will still be visible on your teacher account. If you want the students to have access to the activity again then you can click the ACTIVATE link.

The activities cannot be reordered in the teacher window. When the activities are visible to students they are sorted under the subcategories in which they were organized when you chose the activities for the class.

Add ActivitiesTo assign more activities to your class first click on the class in the left hand column of the page. Once you are on that specific classes page then click on the "Edit" button. Under the class information is the list of activities. You can choose the activities you want to assign to your class by finding them in the list and clicking on the check box next to the name of the activity.

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4. Enroll Students

Click here to watch the video on 'Student Rosters'.

Within each class at the bottom of the list of activities is the student roster. The name of the class and the number of students registered is also listed.

You will be able to see each student's name and login and you will also have the capability to remove them from the class.

To remove the student from the class, click on the red X.

If you want to register or add a new student without having that student create an account on his or her own, click on REGISTER AND ADD A NEW STUDENT. You will need to provide the first name and the last name for the student as well as create a password for the student.

When you are done, submit the information.

This student is now registered in your class and you will be able to see the student in your student roster.

Student Accounts

When students create their accounts they will need to provide their first name and last name. Each student has to make a password for their account and enter the class word that you created for their class. In addition to this information the students will be asked to answer three security questions. The security questions allow the student to reset the password to their account if they can not remember their password. It is important that they answer all three questions because as a teacher you can not access their password or reset their password for them.

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Portal for your students

Click here to watch the video on 'Making Student Accounts'.

1. Access the Portal

Students, if it is your first time to the ITSU portal, sign up for access as a STUDENT. You will need to provide your first name, your last name and make up a password that is easy for you to remember.

The class word is given to you by your teacher and you will need to make sure that you type it in correctly.

When you are done, submit the information.

When you have submitted the information, your username will be given to you at the top of the page. This is what you’ll use to log into the portal.

You will also need to remember the password you just created to login in the future.

2. Running activities

Students run an activity from the Portal by clicking on the green arrow.

A Java window will pop up. Students should choose to open the file by clicking OK and clicking on Allow to see the activity.

Depending on the connection speed, it may take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple minutes for the activity to open for the first time.

3. Saving data

Student data is saved when a student closes an activity. They do not need to click any special button!

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Video Demonstrations of Tools

The following videos will help you get to know the above pieces of technology:

Please note: The following videos require the Flash Player installed and enabled on your computer. You can download the Flash Player from Adobe.

Tool Help

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