This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a place-based environmental science research and monitoring program for elementary school students and their teachers.
Current priorities in science education include efforts to engage students in scientific reasoning and using the knowledge and practices of science to understand natural phenomena and constructively respond to local and global challenges. This project responds to these priorities by developing and testing a place-based environmental science research and monitoring program for elementary school students and their teachers. Students will investigate locally-relevant phenomena related to forest health, such as fire management and invasive species. The students will collect and analyze data related to resource management issues and share findings with community scientists and stakeholders. The project will develop and test a reproducible and adaptable place-based instructional model for schools, districts, and counties having underserved rural populations.
This early stage design and development project for students and teachers of grades 3-5 addresses two major goals: 1) Design and implement a science education program focused on local forest management issues to promote community-relevant learning and agency, and 2) Conduct design-based research to identify effective approaches to engaging young students in purposeful data collection and interpretation, and informed interaction with local stakeholders. The study includes 15 comprehensive public schools and charter schools in 12 school districts in a rural region having limited access to the formal and informal science learning opportunities typically available in urban centers. Research activities are guided by two research questions: 1) To what extent and in what ways do students participating in a school-based, community-engaged, place-based, environmental-focused program develop environmental science agency? And 2) Which design variations of the three Central Design Features foster the three science learning outcomes for students? The three Central Design Features are: 1) Collecting place-relevant environmental data, 2) Facilitated meaning-making with collected data embedded within larger data sets, and 3) Community-engaged, place-based projects and interactions. A design-based research approach will be used to determine how the planned design variations impact learning. The project will involve three design cycles of two-years each, with adjustments being based on insights gained during each implementation cycle. Pre- and post-program sureveys will be used to track changes in student environmental science agency (ESA), and field observations, semi-structured interviews with students and teachers, and examination of student work and artifacts will be used to gather data used to answer the research questions.