Next Step Learning
Next Step Learning: Bridging Science Education and Cleantech Careers with Innovative Technologies is working with industry to create a new model of learning that integrates science education and home energy business. Our aim is to prepare students with the essential science knowledge and engineering skills that empower them to solve energy problems in their own homes with cutting-edge technologies such as infrared imaging and computer simulations.
The Concord Consortium (CC), Next Step Living (NSL), and the Virtual High School (VHS) will collaborate to create a technology-enhanced learning pathway from school to home and then to cleantech careers, establishing a testbed for developing and evaluating strategies for translating innovative technology experiences into consistent science learning and career awareness in different settings. The goal is to develop and test an education model that fuses science learning in school and energy efficiency at home using CC's innovative technologies, NSL's industry expertise, and VHS's online capacity.
Student learning in this project will consist of two parts, in school and at home, supported by the same set of science-based, industry-grade technologies such as infrared thermography and computational fluid dynamics. More than 2,000 students in diverse secondary schools across Massachusetts will participate in this research. They will learn and apply science and engineering concepts and skills required by the Next Generation Science Standards PS3 and ETS1, using home energy savings as the driving force. A distinguishing feature of this project is that students will use sensors, simulations, and mixed-reality technologies to extensively visualize, investigate, and design invisible heat and mass flows in real and virtual worlds. For these technologies to effectively support and integrate classroom and afterschool learning, CC and NSL will jointly develop a new Building Science Investigation (BSI) curriculum to align the technology applications with standards, instruction, and assessment. The curriculum will scaffold the entire learning process from school to home. The home part will be assigned and graded as homework.
This project will build an instructional partnership among teachers and industry experts to provide online mentoring to students. Two summer workshops will be held to support teacher professional development and prepare for the project research. Three strategies regarding content accessibility, curriculum flexibility, and logistic support will be used to engage diverse, underrepresented student populations. All student data will be collected and sifted to measure the effectiveness of the technologies and the curriculum for improving student learning outcomes and career awareness. Research will answer questions on student learning, teacher adoption, and industry roles.
This project will promote the energy literacy and technical competency of more than 2,000 students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, and inspire an even greater population if the family members of these students are also engaged. The project will contribute to home energy savings and cleantech industry growth in Massachusetts and provide a technology-enhanced model of education-industry collaboration that can be transferable to other states or other industries. A standalone online course based on the Building Science Investigation Curriculum will be developed and administered by VHS to further broaden its impacts.