Given the perplexing nature of real-world challenges like genetically modified organisms in human food systems, all students must develop robust knowledge of genetics and principles of inheritance. Previous findings suggest genetics is challenging for learners across various age groups due to complexity in vocabulary, abstraction, and varying organization levels (molecular, cellular and organismal) inherent to its learning (Anderson, 2014; Elmesky, 2013; Knippels, 2002; Ronald, 2011; Roseman et al., 2006). While prior work has shown that elementary students are capable of comprehending basic concepts that underlie genetics and inheritance, very few studies have described students’ understanding of genetics and inheritance at an elementary level. Over four years, we will develop, implement, and study the impact of an 8-week, 3rd-grade science unit focused on a particular production system – corn – to promote student learning about core life sciences concepts emphasized in the Nebraska State Science Standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
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Dante Cisterna, Postdoctoral STEM Fellow, School of Natural Resources, UNL
Nancy Theodor, Undergraduate Research Assistant, UNL