Development of K-5 Students and Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Knowledge of Nanoscience
The goal of this MRSEC Seed Project is to expand the MRSEC Education and Outreach program by establishing a currently missing link between MRSEC’s research objectives in nanoscience on the one hand, and Lincoln Public School’s (LPS) science curriculum on the other. The PI is establishing a collaboration between MRSEC researchers, pre-service elementary teachers and K-5 students, and developing activities designed to engage pre-service teachers and materials science students communication in an effort to introduce authentic learning experiences in elementary school science classes. This program will be inspired by MRSEC research outcomes and directly support elementary students’ science literacy, spur curiosity about and create excitement for physical sciences and thus potentially inspire the next generation of materials scientists.
The following specific objectives will be pursued:
(1) elementary students will participate in an after school science club where they explore science;
(2) students from the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education (TLTE) develop knowledge of teaching and learning science through interactions with MRSEC faculty (e.g., A. Enders, X. Hong, S. Duscharme, and S. Adenwalla) and students by negotiating the delivery and connections between grade-level, standards-based science content and materials and nanoscience; and
(3) MRSEC students improve science communication skills by interacting with K-5 students and TLTE students.
The rationale for this project is that elementary students will benefit from science instruction that focuses on building science literacy skills (Connor et al., 2012). Science literacy is recognized as an important focus in teaching science to help build the ability to reason and draw conclusions from science research (AAAS, 1994). Yet, pre-service elementary teachers often do not seek ways to enhance their science knowledge (Fitzgerald et al., 2012). Conversely, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty, including this MRSEC’s researchers, are actively developing opportunities for students to communicate science to the community.