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How Things Work A Physical Science Workshop For K 8 Teachers.

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.672.1 - 9.672.10



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Paper Authors

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Wesley Bliven

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Elizabeth Eschenbach

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

How Things Work: A Physical Science Workshop for K-8th Grade Teachers.

Wesley W. Bliven, Elizabeth A. Eschenbach

Physics, Environmental Resources Engineering Humboldt State University

Abstract This paper describes a physical science workshop for K-8th grade teachers that has been offered the past 3 years as part of the Redwood Science Project at Humboldt State University. The Redwood Science Project is one of 18 sites of the California Science Project. The goals of the How Things Work workshop are: 1) to increase the level of physical science content knowledge of K-8th grade teachers, 2) to increase the level of confidence of K-8th grade teachers have when working with physical science concepts and 3) to increase K-8th grade teachers’ understanding of the California State Science Standards. The pedagogical approach used in the workshop is a discovery/constructivist approach. The paper specifically describes in detail the electricity and magnetism module and the reverse engineering/mechanical dissection module, the use of minute papers to assess participant learning, observations from the course instructors and participants and references to the course website. The electricity and magnetism module includes building simple examples of a compass, an electromagnet, a motor and a speaker. This activity complements the mechanical dissection activity as many of the objects dissected by the teachers are electrical and contain motors, electromagnets and speakers. Teachers express an increase in confidence and an increase in their willingness to experiment with science teaching. The workshop is very popular amongst teachers who state initially they are unconfident with their physical science knowledge. Teacher feedback attributes the popularity of the course to 1) hands on activities 2) instructors’ approachableness, and 3) use of minute papers.

How Things Work Workshop The purpose of the California Science Project1 (CSP) is to serve as a provider of services to strengthen the science programs and science instruction of California Schools in a manner consistent with the California Science Framework and California Science Content Standards.2 The CSP funded the Redwood Science Project3, which sponsors the Redwood Science Summer Institute for K-8th grade teachers. The institute offers 4 courses, one of which is our How Things Work course. During the summer participants attend our class four hours per day for five days with a 10-hour weekend follow up during the school year for a total of 30 in-class hours. The topics covered in the 2003-2004 course were Energy, Electricity and Magnetism, Mechanical Dissection, Light and Lens, Sound and Waves, and Forces and Motion. This paper describes two of the modules covered: Electricity and Magnetism, and Mechanical Dissection. These two units were covered in approximately 8 class hours spanning three instructional days.

Our main course goal is to aid teachers in becoming comfortable with some of the physical science concepts that are applicable to a wide variety of common machines. By increasing teachers’ confidence in their understanding of physical science and by providing resources (both material and information) we encourage teachers to do more hands on physical science activities

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Bliven, W., & Eschenbach, E. (2004, June), How Things Work A Physical Science Workshop For K 8 Teachers. Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13467

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