Tuesday, April 23, 2013

STEM EDUCATION -Inquiry-based research in the classroom


Greenhouse Project

Worm Farm Project

Hydroponic Project

Aquaponics Project

As a science educator my initial concern is to help create, within the minds of my students, the desire to champion the cause of preserving Mother Earth for future generations.  It is understood that greater understanding of science leads to greater appreciation for our planet and the environment that we all count on for life.

Physical and chemical characteristics of soil, plants, fertilizer, water and air are game for scientific inquiry.  To become more knowledgeable about the environment is to be more powerful in your ability to take on challenging problems and put forth the effort to provide timely solutions.

The goals of the project are to develop within students an appreciation for factors that impact changes in our environment and our quality of life.  Students develop the skills, attributes and understanding to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and effective communicators of both creative ideas and arguments based upon fact.  This multifaceted approach to learning provides the instruction and key learning experiences to support students in their development of more sophisticated understanding.

These are long-term inquiry-based research projects provide a wealth of opportunity for formative assessment of by teachers.   Formative assessments provide the needed snapshot measure of students’ abilities and their growth in understanding.  It utilizes the assessment of performance expectations that are designed to improve 21st century skills such as information processing and communication, thinking and problem solving and personal and workplace productivity.  The instructional methodology is grounded in the 5E instructional model that features the following learning components:  Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

There is an abundance of research on the pedagogy of teaching science that points to the fact that students engaged in project-based learning opportunities not only learn the same content as in lecture-based units but also gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  When students are in control of their own learning while conducting long-term research projects, then they are more motivated and it creates a strong sense of ownership.  Authentic research experience has the potential to provide high school students with scientific reasoning skills desired by both high school and university instructors.

Using practices in the science class is the means by which to develop understanding of science ideas.  The learning of science requires doing science.  It requires both scientific and engineering practices.  These projects provide the means to include performance expectations that challenge students to demonstrate knowledge-in-use.

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