Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bring the outside in?

The two readings for this week focused on how students can learn science from informal education settings. Quinn and Bell focused on how designing, making and playing can support and help the goals of the A Framework for K-12 Science Education, of which we read earlier in the semester. Braund and Reiss argue that out-of-school experiences would benefit science learners.

Motivating and interesting students seems to be the overarching theme for why informal science education should be used in schools. Braund claims that out-of-school trips and projects would allow students to experience ‘authentic’ science. Quinn has similar feelings, and says projects and out of school experiences would allow students more autonomy in what they learn, which would boost their intrinsic motivations to learn. He calls it identity-driven, which reminded me of the Buehl chapter on identities. Other earlier reading touched on this idea as well. In the modeling, argumentation and explanation papers, the authors argue that students should have the ability to choose a question they wanted to answer. Teachers can scaffold what questions could be asked, but the students should want to find out the answers. Quinn and Braund argue that informal education could lead to student interest, as it would be student driven. Furthermore, it can give students a positive idea of what practicing science and engineering is like. I liked the example, where physics students to can to a theme park to see physics and engineering practices at work. However, going back to Beuhl’s identities and motivating students; how can we motivate a student who’s strengths are not in the science, engineering, or computational fields?

Braund and Reiss bring up the difficulties of including more out-of-school experiences. There is limited time and funds for teachers to take students on field trips, and while students can learn how to put vocabulary into context, there is not certainty that all of the students will learn what they need to learn for standardized tests. However, I think that Quinn and Bell attempt to bring the ‘authentic’ science into the classroom. The authors discuss how their method can be used to support the goals of the Framework. There may be less fieldtrips, but they say that students encounter chances for science exploration enough in their world outside of school. The designing, making and playing method seems to follow along the ideas of modeling, argumentation, and communication, which is what all of our readings argued students be able to do, but adding even more autonomy for the student. Projects would help scaffold what students observe outside of school. However, I wonder what designing, making, and playing projects would look like in and out of class. Would it be like the tweet assignment we do, but then create a project to solve a tweet question, and then present the refined models to the class? How would these types of projects be scaffolded? 


  1. While field trips can offer out of school learning experiences, the authors possibly meant for experiences completely unrelated to school. The authors were encouraging students to find moments of excitement in learning that could inspire students to pursue their individual learning. By doing so, students could recognize this learning experience and further follow it while in the classroom. The design, making and playing method provided autonomy for students. Students could vote for an observation from the class and choose to investigate it. The instructor would have to scaffold these projects so that they are cognitively engaging and require students to explain and argue about evidence.

  2. I'm interested in what the DMP model would look like in the secondary classroom. What exactly is playing for seniors in high school? Can playing be explain and argue? Or maybe use and refine your model? I think that it can fit in there, but those don't sound quite as fun as play.

  3. Playing in a classroom could look like a the game of tag "Catch one...Catch all" where one person tags a classmate, then both people become "it" and tag everyone else until the last person is tagged. This game could be made to be an analogy like infectious disease spread. You could make alterations to the game to represent factors of infectious disease transmission (no running- makes classmates more susceptible, tag with two hands- one hand is exposure, two hands is infection) they could then be introduced to the concept, and have to make connections between what they know about infectious disease and the game that they just played. This could be done with other ecological interactions as well, you could talk about predator prey interactions. You could do a dating game in the class and talk about the traits that are preferenced by women, that may lead to selection for specific traits. This however could be very risky depending on the grade and maturity level.


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