June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.67.1 - 23.67.13
A MATERIALS ENGINEER’S APPROACH TO EXPLAINING SCIENTIFIC PROBLEMS IN AN 8TH GRADE CLASSROOM: A CASE STUDYABSTRACT The ______ public school system has partnered with _________ to develop innovative and engagingSTEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities for middle school students through NSF’sGK12 program. _____ GK12 program, ______, pairs a senior graduate student (i.e., GK12 Fellow) with amiddle school science teacher and classroom for the duration of the academic year. These GK12 Fellowsengage the students by providing inquiry-based learning experiences and authentic demonstrations, whichbring relevance by relating the science curriculum to real world challenges. Each Fellow’s researchbackground provides a unique venue for enhancing the classroom curricula. Here we present a case studyshowcasing the activities and interactions of one _______ GK12 Fellow in the classroom who usesalternative ways to approach the science curriculum by addressing complex problems through the lens ofa materials engineer. In this case study, the primary research focus of the author, a GK12 Fellow, is onmaterials science and engineering, specifically polymers, a field completely absent from middle schoolcurricula. By providing hands on demonstrations and reliable scientific expertise, 8 th grade students havethe opportunity to experience science as a comprehensive field and not as a collection of discreetunrelated units. Through focus group study, students expressed their enthusiasm and interest in theexciting concepts being brought to the classroom. These results suggest that middle school studentsbenefit from taking an integrated approach to science using materials science and engineering as thescaffolding for its implementation.
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