Since 1949, the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) has been promoting science literacy and advancing inquiry learning. MSSEF programs engage sustained student interest, increasing science learning while also developing students’ 21st century workplace skills, such as communication, teamwork and a strong work ethic.
It can be difficult to put into words the excitement that builds when a student’s idea becomes fully realized through a science project. We thought we’d let some of our students, teachers, and friends do the talking for us through a series of videos. Visit MSSEF’s YouTube channel, or start with The Anatomy of a Science Fair Project, below.
Identifying problems, brainstorming possible solutions, and conducting experiments are all steps in the process of inquiry learning. One school is taking the process even further, by adding video documentation to the mix.
Thanks to a partnership with Crissy Field Center, environmental science students from Galileo Academy of Science & Technology in San Francisco have the opportunity to use video to capture data and present scientific findings. The video-production angle takes inquiry learning to a new level, bringing with it the potential to extend the end project far beyond the classroom walls. In this digital age, challenging students to develop some media production skills isn’t a bad idea, either!
More on KQED Education
Touted as the educational model best suited to prepare students for 21st-century challenges, project-based learning boosts student engagement while honing critical thinking and problem solving skills.
While the idea of project-based learning is gaining traction, the challenge of shifting from the “traditional” teaching method to a project-based model takes careful planning and more than a little trust.
Teacher training is crucial. In Massachusetts, teachers have an opportunity to earn the STEM Certificate in Inquiry from Framingham State University by taking a series of three professional development courses over the summer. The program was developed by the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) in collaboration with the Education Development Center (EDC) as part of the Curious Minds Initiative (CMI).
Course 1: Teaching Science through the Inquiry Process
Course 2: Project-based Classroom Science
Course 3: Organizing a Science & Engineering Fair
Read more on US News & World Report
Last year, Tyler Dewitt, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave an inspiring talk at Tedx Beacon Street, recently made available online.
In short, Tyler believes scientists should present science as a “story.” He suggests that there would be benefits to be had by moving away from the dry textbook-style learning and toward making science more fun and interactive for all students.
Tyler supports STEM education through his involvement with MIT’s K12 video initiative and his own YouTube channel.
The MIT Museum and Boston’s Museum of Science have a week of hands-on activities planned to mark the week long celebration of engineering occurring to school vacation week (February 18th – February 22nd) .
The Museum of Science will have activities lining the floors of the Exhibit Hall during open hours. They also have a full schedule of special events and challenges throughout the week.
The MIT Museum has drop-in, hands-on activities from 10 am – 1 pm followed by special presentations by local companies and MIT departments from 1 pm – 3 pm every day this week. On Saturday, February 23rd MIT’s Society of Women Engineers will host a panel discussion about engineering careers, all genders and ages are welcome, but the talk is especially applicable to high school students.
~ Shannon Morey
PASCO and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have teamed up to celebrate STEM educators who have created and are using effective STEM curriculum in the classroom.
A total of five 2013 PASCO STEM Educator Awards will be given to teachers exhibiting excellent in STEM education. One elementary school educator and two teachers from middle and high schools will receive a prize worth approximately $4,500.
Consisting of experts selected by NSTA, the judging panel will be looking for entries that implement innovative inquiry-based, technology-infused STEM programs. The best entries will be those that address a real-world application or problem, challenging students to use STEM skills to solve it.
To apply, fill out this application and submit it by November 30th, 2012.
See on www.pasco.com
In an interesting collision of pop culture and science, MIT unveiled a new reality video series this week called “ChemLab Boot Camp.” The series follows MIT freshmen as they progress through the four-week-long Introductory Lab Techniques course. It’s geek entertainment with a mission. According to MIT Professor John Essigmann, “We hope to show the human side of our field and to inspire young people to want to become the next generation of chemists.”
The show, which premieres officially in September, promises to give viewers a front-row seat on hands-on learning at its finest. It also has the potential to deliver a little drama: Students who succeed in the class have a guaranteed job in a MIT research lab. Stay tuned…!
See on www.insidehighered.com
Since you are reading this blog, you are probably already “sold” on the concept of inquiry-based learning — or interested in it, at the very least. Far from being a completely unstructured form of education, inquiry-based learning requires that a teacher do significant advance planning in order to achieve optimal results in the classroom. Guiding student exploration and discovery is critical to the success of inquiry learning.
A post on the YouthLearn site concisely identifies some important components to inquiry-based learning, stressing the necessity of planning, as well as delving into the inquiry process in detail. It’s a great article for experienced teachers as well as those new to using inquiry in the classroom. Read it here: www.youthlearn.org
Science fairs foster a spirit of inquiry in education, helping students to realize and experience practical applications of what they have learned in the classroom. For teachers who see the benefits of bringing inquiry learning into the classroom, the question of how to do so while covering the curriculum can weigh heavy.
In a thoughtful blog post on the Canadian Education Association’s web site, English teacher Brooke Moore explores that question — among others — concluding that, “there is a distinct difference between giving students the liberty to go in many directions and scaffolding them to move in a purposeful direction with confidence.” Read more about Brooke’s experience with inquiry learning in the classroom here: www.cea-ace.ca.
The research of Quincy High School seniors Peter Giunta and Eoin Moriarty snagged them a Team Honorable Mention at the 63rd Massachusetts High School Science & Engineering Fair at MIT in May. More importantly, the pair’s project shed light on an interesting question: Is the consumption of probiotics through yogurt or pills really beneficial to digestive health? Read all about their project and the hands-on work that they did in order to reach their conclusion.