With funding from NSF, this project will result in a fully designed, developed, and tested modeling tool with accompanying instruction materials, and explore how to support students in building and using models to explain and predict phenomena across a range of disciplines. It will also document the sophistication of understanding of disciplinary core ideas that students develop when building and using models in grades 6-12.
Research has shown that modeling is an essential practice in the learning of science and that students can effectively construct and use models to predict and explain phenomena. The research also suggests that while there is a dearth of high-quality materials that support modeling in K-12 classrooms, especially in the elementary levels, very little is known about how best to support students in developing, using and revising models in the upper grades. Modeling is a crucial skill in the science disciplines and a focus of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards, thus, further research is needed to learn how to scaffold learners in the model-building process. This work will take place in both urban and suburban school systems, and will incorporate a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds in both students and teachers, which reflects the profile of a large portion of the United States.
The results of this research will lead to materials that can begin to fill the gap of high-quality tools and curricula for middle and high school science students; the benefits will be that a wide range of students can use the tools, curriculum materials and scaffolds. Enabling students access to these high-quality science education materials will increase the population of citizens capable of continuing further STEM learning.