Northwestern University Leadership Academy for Science Improvement

  • McGee, Steven M (PD/PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

NU Leadership Academy for Science Improvement
Director: Steven McGee, Ph.D. s-mcgee@northwestern.edu

Project Summary
The core component of the Academy implementation will be the delivery of 10 workshops per year for 4 years. Three of the workshops will occur in August each year prior to the start of school. The remaining 7 workshops will occur every 5 weeks during each school year. The participating schools will provide stipends for teachers attending the summer workshops and substitute teachers during the school year. The Academy staff will work closely with the Network staff to prioritize areas of the NGSS. The initial prioritization process has been informed by the literature of student conceptions as well as by the experiences of Network staff. The prioritization will evolve based on the needs of the schools during the implementation of the program. The scientific areas identified through prioritization will be aligned to areas of research excellence at NU. Graduate student researchers from those areas will work with Academy staff to create inquiry-based experiences for workshop participants to improve their understanding of specific core disciplinary ideas in the NGSS. An overview of the summer 2013 3-day workshop and the October 2013 1-day workshop will serve as an example of the prioritization process.

Energy and matter are both Crosscutting Concepts as well as physical science Core Disciplinary Ideas in the NGSS. They are important ideas that students should grasp in their own right, but they are also essential building blocks for life and Earth science concepts as well. Learning progressions research has shown that the idea of conservation of energy is a difficult concept for most high school students to grasp (Jin & Anderson, 2012; Neumann, et. al., 2013). Energy transformation and degradation are concepts that begin to emerge on average at the middle school level, therefore for CPS high school students, they will likely be difficult as well. Therefore, the first year focus of the Academy will be on energy transformation, degradation, and conservation. Related crosscutting concepts will be systems and system models as well as stability and change. Related science and engineering practices will be developing and using models (Practice 2), analyzing and interpreting data (Practice 4), and using mathematics and computational thinking (Practice 5).

The three-day summer 2013 workshop series will begin with a focus on physical science (HS-PS1-f of the draft standards). Physical science teacher leaders will explore data as well as theoretical models from a variety of nanoparticles developed at the International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN) to explore how different amounts of energy applied to atoms results in particles of qualitatively different shapes. Day 2 will focus on life science (HS-LS2-g). Biology teacher leaders will explore data on the Floral Report Card project as part of the joint Plant Biology and Conservation program between NU and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Teachers will use these data to develop explanations for how variations in rates of photosynthesis and respiration influence the cycling of carbon. Day 3 will focus on Earth systems science (HS-ESS2-g). Earth science teacher leaders will explore data from the Earth and Planetary Science department on ancient climates to model how future changes to the ocean circulation system can impact climate through changes in atmospheric circulation. The first school year workshop will focus on engineering, technology, and applications of science (HS-PS3-b)
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/14

Funding

  • Lloyd A. Fry Foundation (Award Letter 8/30/13)

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