I am very excited to share that ongoing endeavors I have led over the past 3 years to build a transdisciplinary community focused on education and education research grounded in the FEW-Nexus will be supported for the upcoming 5 years through a Research Coordination Networks (RCN) grant from the National Science Foundation. The project – INFEWS/T3 RCN: Cultivating a National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW; NSF-1856040) is co-funded through the Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) program and education core research program (ECR) through Education and Human Resources (EHR). NC-FEW involves faculty from across the U.S. and is led by an amazing NC-FEW team, members of which have been working together since the beginning through prior early-stage funding from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award #1006539 and #2017-06281, the Network of STEM Education Centers/APLU (NSEC), the Agricultural Research Division at the University of Nebraska, and Virginia Tech in the National Capital Region (NCR). Stay tuned for information about future conferences, webinars, newsletters, and other community activities. Want to find out more? Check out the brand-new NC-FEW website and join us to get involved!
The final, capstone study from the MoHSES project has been published in the May issue of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. This comparative research investigates the implementation and 3rd-grade students’ model-based learning associated with two versions of the FOSS Water unit. The study provides evidence that students experiencing the project-developed, model-based version of the curriculum showed greater gains in their model-based explanations for water-related phenomena than did students experiencing the standard version of the unit. These findings reflect many years of hard, collaborative work with truly amazing elementary teachers to develop effective resources to support model-based science teaching and learning. This manuscript was a significant team effort that I am very pleased to see in print.
Baumfalk, B., Bhattacharya, D., Vo, T., Forbes, C.T., Zangori, L., & Schwarz, C. (2019). Impact of model-based curriculum and instruction on 3rd-grade students’ scientific explanations for the hydrosphere. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 56(5), 570-597.
An article describing our NSF-funded SCIL 109 Water in Society course, part of the WELL project, and its first implementation appears in the September/October 2018 issue of the Journal of College Science Teaching. In the article, we describe core tenets of the course design, present some findings from research conducted during the first year of the course, and share some ongoing questions and challenges associated with the course. This was a great team effort and it’s fantastic to see this manuscript in print. We look forward to building on this work with subsequent publications focused on students’ model-based reasoning about socio-hydrologic issues conducted in the context of the course.
Forbes, C.T., Brozovic, N., Franz, T., Lally, D., & Petitt, D. (2018). Water in Society: An interdisciplinary course to support undergraduate students’ water literacy. Journal of College Science Teaching, 48(1), 36-42.
For the past year, I have been fortunate to be involved in an NSF-funded endeavor to identify and articulate grand challenges driving geoscience education research in the years to come. The resulting product is a community framework for geoscience education research, which is freely-accessible to anyone with interests in this domain. I served on a working group for one of the 10 strands focused on teaching about the Earth in the context of societal issues, a summary of which can be found in published form here.
Teasdale, R., Scherer, H., Holder, L., Boger, R., & Forbes, C.T. (2018). Research on teaching about Earth in the context of societal problems. In K. St. John (Ed.), Community Framework for Geoscience Education Research (pgs. 49-60). National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.25885/ger_framework/5.
Many thanks to Kristen St. John and the other PIs for leading this effort!
Over the past two years, I have been working with an amazing group of colleagues to cultivate and establish a transdisciplinary community of educators and education researchers who focus on the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus. In May, we were fortunate enough to be able to take the next major step forward in this endeavor. Through funding through the USDA-NIFA Higher Education Challenge grant program, APLU’s Network of STEM Education Centers Research Action Cluster grant program, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Virginia Tech, we were able to hold an invited conference with nearly 50 participants from over 40 U.S. and international institutions. The conference – Innovating Teaching and Learning in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus: Toward a National Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Systems Education (NC-FEW) – was held May 22-23 in the Washington, D.C. metro area at the Virginia Tech Executive Briefing Center. Conference participants had opportunities to share their research and engage with colleagues from a diverse array of disciplinary backgrounds (education, STEM disciplines, agriculture, natural resources) to articulate and shape discourse around a systemic approach to FEW-Nexus education and education research. We benefited tremendously from insights of invited speakers, including INFEWS program officers Rachel Melnick (USDA-NIFA) and Tom Torgersen (NSF), Kacy Redd (APLU/NSEC), and Jeff Weld (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy). A special thanks to Co-PIs and conference planning committee members Hannah Scherer, Hui-Hui Wang, Nicole Sintov, and Kelly Millenbah for helping plan and facilitate the conference, as well as staff from the UNL Center for Science, Math, and Computer Education (CSMCE). We look forward to next steps advancing the goals and priorities of this developing network.
I am excited to announce our new project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 program (DRL 1720838 and 1719872). In the High School Students’ Climate Literacy through Epistemology of Scientific Modeling (CliMES) project, we will engage in a 4-year, mixed-methods, design-based research project to investigate classroom use of EzGCM (Easy Global Climate Modeling), a web-based climate modeling suite designed to provide non-scientists experiences with climate modeling. We are developing and implementing a 6-week climate science module for secondary science classrooms designed around EzGCM. Each year, we will collect and analyze evidence of students’ model-based reasoning about climate, including pre-/post- measures of students’ conceptual and epistemic knowledge, curriculum-embedded modeling tasks, interviews, and videorecorded observations of instruction to investigate two research questions: 1) how do secondary students develop epistemic and conceptual knowledge about the Earth’s climate and climate science? and 2) how do secondary science teachers support students’ use of EzGCM to develop epistemic and conceptual knowledge about the Earth’s climate and climate science? The project will impact over 50 secondary teachers and 3000 secondary students over four years and leverages a new partnership between Columbia University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, promoting cross-fertilization between climate scientists and science educators, in partnership with Nebraska school districts.
In a new video series from CADRE, a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program, I had a chance to share a bit about the importance of scientific modeling in science learning environments. It’s very exciting to be featured as part of a group, including Dan Damelin (The Concord Consortium) and Brian Reiser (Northwestern University), discussing this important topic related to our MoHSES, NE WETS, WELS2, and WELL projects.
In a new video series from CADRE, a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program, I had a chance to share a bit about the importance of education research. It’s very exciting to be featured as part of a group, including Christine Cunningham (Museum of Science), Kathy Perkins (University of Colorado, Boulder), Vikram Kapila (NYU), discussing the empirical work that goes hand-in-hand with educational design and development associated with all my projects.
Congratulations to Tina Vo on being selected as a 2016-17 CADRE Fellow! This wonderful experience, administered by the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) and open to graduate students funded on NSF DRK-12 projects, will afford many productive opportunities to network and develop skills that will enhance Tina’s preparation for early-career research and teaching. Tina has worked on the MoHSES project for the past 4 years as a graduate assistant, first as a masters student at the University of Iowa and now as a Ph.D. student at UNL. She is currently involved in a significant number of research studies investigating both student and teacher dimensions of MoHSES work focused on model-based teaching and learning about water systems at the elementary level. She has also contributed to other externally-funded water education projects, including NE WETS and WELS2.
In October, the 2017 STEM Education Research Retreat was held on East Campus in Hardin Hall in partnership between the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education, IANR Science Literacy, and the Nebraska Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Education. Over 75 UNL faculty, postdocs, and graduate students representing nearly all of UNL’s academic Colleges and Extension participated in this year’s event. Over 30 posters were presented in two consecutive poster sessions, showcasing the high-quality and innovative STEM education research being conducted at the university and across the state. Participants also participated in an interactive webinar with NSF Program Officers to learn more about the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) funding program. It was a pleasure to co-plan and host this event in conjunction with colleagues from across campuses. Kudos to Devarati Bhattacharya, Erin Ingram, Tina Vo, Diane Lally, Kari Nelson, Destini Petitt, and McKenzie Peterson for presenting their research, including work from the MoHSES, WELL, and UnICORN projects.