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.
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.
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.
There are few STEM education activities more sacred than the science fair. However, as with many such institutions, there is precious little empirical research to support the conventional wisdom that science fairs are valuable, worthwhile experiences for students. The National Science Foundation has funded the Education Development Center to conduct a national study of middle school science fairs. Results from this work will be important to inform decision-making about STEM programming in school settings, as well as in non-formal and informal science learning environments.