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Teaching Inquiry Based Stem In The Elementary Grades Using Manipulatives: A Systemic Solution Report

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Thinking, Reasoning & Engineering in Elementary School

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count

18

Page Numbers

15.1176.1 - 15.1176.18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16395

Download Count

626

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Paper Authors

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Louis Nadelson Boise State University

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Louis S. Nadelson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Boise State University. His research agenda is conducted within the context of STEM education and includes aspects of conceptual change, inquiry, and pre-service and in-service teacher education. He has published research ranging from teacher professional development to the impact of inquiry on STEM learning. Dr. Nadelson earned a B.S. degree in Biological and Physics Science from Colorado State University, a B.A. with concentrations in computing, mathematics and physics from The Evergreen State University, a Secondary Teaching Certificate from University of Puget Sound, an M. Ed. in Instructional Technology Leadership from Western Washington University and a Ph.D. (research-based, not theoretical) in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Anne Hay Boise State University

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Anne Hay is the Coordinator of the Idaho SySTEMic Solution, a K-12 research project at Boise State University funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Hay has more than 25 years of teaching experience in K-12 through college programs, teaching German, English as a foreign language, biology, general science, life science, ecology and music. She received a B.A. and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University and a Teaching Credential from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Pat Pyke Boise State University

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Patricia A. Pyke is the Director of Education Research for the College of Engineering at Boise State University. She oversees research projects and initiatives in engineering student success, K-12 engineering and integrated STEM programs. She earned a B.S.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Janet Callahan Boise State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6665-1584

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Janet Callahan is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Engineering at Boise State University and a Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department. Dr. Callahan received her Ph.D. in Materials Science, her M.S. in Metallurgy and her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut. Her educational research interests include freshmen engineering programs, math success, K-12 STEM curriculum and accreditation, and retention and recruitment of STEM majors. She is an ABET program evaluator for ceramic engineering, chemical engineering and materials science and engineering programs.

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Cheryl Schrader Boise State University

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Cheryl B. Schrader is Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boise State University. Dean Schrader has an extensive record of publications and sponsored research in the systems, control and engineering education fields. She received the 2005 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring from the White House for an enduring, strong, and personal commitment to underrepresented engineering students and faculty. Dr. Schrader received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Valparaiso University, and her M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. in Systems and Control, both from University of Notre Dame.

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

Teaching Inquiry-Based STEM in the Elementary Grades Using Manipulatives: A SySTEMic Solution Report Introduction

Young learners come to school holding myriad conceptions about how the world works, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM .1-3 Further, young students’ conceptions are commonly based on fragmented knowledge or naïve perspectives that contribute to the importance of early exposure to and practice with scrutinizing situations scientifically.1,3 An important part of helping children gain the skills necessary to approach situations scientifically involves preparing them to conduct scientific inquiry.3 The development of critical thinking skills and scientific approaches to problem solving should begin early in education.4 However, lack of elementary teacher comfort and familiarity with inquiry may be a significant barrier hindering early learner experience with and development of inquiry skills.5 Additionally, although engineering topics are particularly well suited for teaching inquiry, most teachers, like the general public, are not well versed in engineering. Therefore, teachers are excellent candidates for participation in professional development that enhances their knowledge and comfort with teaching inquiry-based STEM curriculum and engineering content in particular.

Recognizing the importance of inquiry for learning STEM curriculum, and the potentially constrained levels of teacher comfort and experience with teaching inquiry, our project team at Boise State University developed a three-day summer institute for K-5 teachers that focused on enhancing their knowledge and skills for teaching inquiry-based STEM. The summer institute was part of a larger project, the Idaho SySTEMic Solution, a multi-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Education with the mission of increasing K-5 teacher understanding, comfort, and capacity to effectively teach STEM content. Further, we were seeking to enhance the teachers’ awareness and ability to apply 21st century skills6 in their inquiry-based instruction. The primary goal of the summer institute was to prepare teachers to teach STEM content using manipulatives, PCS BrickLabs®. During the summer institute the teachers gained experience with the BrickLabs®, developed and explored content aligned with STEM learning standards, engaged in activities that applied 21st century skills, and prepared to use the BrickLabs® to teach STEM concepts to their students. In addition to the professional development, the teachers were provided with curricular support materials (lessons activity books) as part of a PCS BrickLab® for each classroom to implement inquiry-based STEM lessons. PCS BrickLab®, supplied by educational products company PCS Edventures!, contains more than 5,000 Lego®-like construction bricks.

An important aspect of this project is investigating the effectiveness and influence of this professional development on teacher practices. Given our focus on inquiry during the summer institute we were interested in determining how the teachers were implementing inquiry-based instruction and what structure the inquiry took in their lessons, and the associated applications of 21st century skills, in particular collaboration. To answer this question we conducted classroom observations of all 38 summer institute participants teaching STEM lessons using the manipulatives. Our project is unique with respect to the extent of our data collection: 38 K-5 teachers teaching STEM lessons. The extent of our research allowed us to report both

Nadelson, L., & Hay, A., & Pyke, P., & Callahan, J., & Schrader, C. (2010, June), Teaching Inquiry Based Stem In The Elementary Grades Using Manipulatives: A Systemic Solution Report Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16395

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