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Discovery Project – Improving Seventh Grade Critical Thinking Skills

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Engineering in Middle Schools

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.441.1 - 13.441.21



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Paper Authors

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Paul Crips Laramie Middle School

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William Parker Laramie County School District 1

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Steven Barrett University of Wyoming


Jerry Hamann University of Wyoming

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Jerry C. Hamann received the B.S. in Electrical Engineering with a Bioengineering Option from the University of Wyoming in 1984. He then worked for the Loveland Instrument Division of Hewlett-Packard before returning to the University of Wyoming to complete the M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1988. Sharing time as a lecturer and National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, he completed the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin in 1993. As a faculty member at the University of Wyoming since 1993, Jerry has pursued research interests in applied robotics and control, signal processing, and higher education teaching and learning. He currently directs the University of Wyoming Hewlett Foundation Engineering Schools of the West Initiative, which is focused upon enhancing the recruitment, retention and quality of undergraduate engineering students.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Discovery Project – Improving Seventh Grade Critical Thinking Skills


In April 2006 the Wyoming Department of Education awarded Laramie County School District #1 (LCSD#1) of Cheyenne, Wyoming a grant of $230K to integrate mathematics, science, and language arts into the district’s seventh grade curriculum. The overall goal of the grant was to enhance the technical and cultural literacy of the students. To achieve this goal an objective was set that all seventh grade students would improve their authentic critical thinking skills by developing inquiry skills through the use of Discovery Boxes that would integrate mathematics, science, and language arts skills. A Discovery Team was formed to implement the grant. The team consisted of professional educators. Approximately 20 team members were teachers from constituent middle schools within LCSD#1. The remaining six team members were subject matter experts including educators from the nearby university and community college and the private sector. In this paper we discuss how this program was implemented, the contents of each Discovery Box, the impact on meeting state educational standards, some of the issues involved in creating such a program and most importantly the highlight of the program – students regularly journaling their progress throughout the year. Due to the success of this grant the program has been extended to the LSCD#1 eighth grade curriculum for academic year 2007/2008. We also plan on pursuing funding to extend this to the ninth grade in the coming year.


On April 1, 2006, the Wyoming Department of Education awarded Laramie County School District #1 (LCSD#1) in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a No-Child-Left-Behind grant for $230,699. The purpose of the grant was to develop a Mathematics and Science Partnership, referred to as “The Discovery Project.” The focus was to be on seventh grade LCSD#1 students at the three Cheyenne Junior High Schools: Carey, Johnson and McCormick. Carey and Johnson were designated two “high need” schools after failing to meet annual proficiency for three prior years to the grant.

A “Discovery Team” was formed at the start of the grant, consisting of twenty LCSD#1 teachers and paraprofessionals along with six professors from the University of Wyoming and Laramie County Community College. The grant was led by a Facilitator and overseen by an evaluator. Administrative support was provided by LCSD#1 Administration.

The goal of the Discovery Team was to create project-based activities focused on three seventh grade science topics: chemistry, physics and biology. The Team succeeded in developing four highly innovative and well documented Discovery Boxes: Stretching and Shrinking, Exploration, Crime Scene Investigation and Genetics, which were truly

Crips, P., & Parker, W., & Barrett, S., & Hamann, J. (2008, June), Discovery Project – Improving Seventh Grade Critical Thinking Skills Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3087

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