Crafting Engagement in Science Environments is a five-year, $3.6 million research grant funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The researchers and teachers involved are working to boost interest and engagement in science for all students. They are also providing students with the skills and opportunities to pursue science in the future.
The Crafting Engagement in Science Environments project is a collaboration between researchers and teachers in the U.S. and in Finland. Its purpose is to increase student engagement and interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Project partners are developing and implementing a new set of learning materials for high school physics and chemistry classes in both countries. In particular, they want to allow and encourage all students, including underrepresented groups of students, to pursue STEM learning.
This research project is an international effort that introduces new topics with a new approach that focuses on the importance of project-based learning (PBL). PBL is a teaching method that allows students time to explore and investigate a complex and engaging question or challenge. Both the United States and Finland are focused on new science standards that challenge conventional teaching techniques in an effort to increase interest in and engagement with STEM. Declines in student interest in STEM fields makes it important to uncover the ways PBL can give young learners the resources and support they need to pursue science.
One key aspect of this project is the collaboration with Finland. Finland’s students rank at or near the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scientific literacy exams, much higher than rankings of U.S. students. However, Finland, too, faces the dilemma that many of its students are not engaged enough in science to want to pursue it as a career. For this reason, both Finland and the U.S. can benefit from researching how to encourage students to immerse themselves in learning STEM, and how to cultivate curiosity and the desire to learn more science.