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News from the Institute for Science and Mathematics Education

Project COOL: Creating Afterschool Programs to Apprentice Girls into Science

Research shows that informal learning environments can uniquely help youth from non-dominant communities engage in powerful science learning and come to identify with science. Project COOL: Chemical Oceanography Outside the Lab is a three-quarter sequence that brings together geoscientists and undergraduates to work with middle school youth in an afterschool science program in South Seattle. UW Oceanography and the Institute for Science + Math Education collaborated to conceive of this NSF-funded design-based research effort.

Winter quarter we launched a UW Pipeline service learning course that prepares undergraduates to mentors middle school students as they investigate ocean chemistry. The undergraduates who are students in biology, marine sciences, mathematics, and education will meet with their middle school protégés weekly and participate in planning sessions with the project coordinators. In addition to their programmatic work, UW undergraduates will contribute to the educational research agenda – studying how middle school students learn oceanography and how their views of science and scientists develop.

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Research+Practice Collaboratory

With an $8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Institute for Science + Math Education (ISME) researchers—in collaboration with the Exploratorium in San Francisco; University of Colorado, Boulder; TERC; EDC, and Inverness Research—have formed a Research+Practice Collaboratory to strengthen connections between research and practice in K-12 STEM education and engage in instructional improvement across formal and informal settings.

With the newly released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards adoptions across the country, bridging the gap between research and practice is more critical than ever. The Collaboratory has been formed to move beyond the traditional thinking about "getting research into practice" and instead proposes to reframe and redefine the relationship between scholarly and practical knowledge in ways that can create more usable research and instructional tools and practices that improve STEM learning opportunities for children and youth. The Collaboratory builds on trends in the medical sciences that focus on translational research and the adaptation, rather than the adoption, of research into real world and practical settings.

The Research+Practice Collaboratory will work with leading educational professional associates and other STEM advocates to leverage their existing knowledge and practices to:

  • Collect, create, and synthesize translational information resources in order to expand STEM educators' and educational leaders' access and awareness to current relevant research, and promote STEM education researchers understanding of the leading problems of practice.
  • Support multiple opportunities for cross-sector—research and practice; education and social sciences; formal and informal education—meetings to foster critical engagement and cultural exchange between research and practice communities.
  • Develop and study innovative new resources and mechanisms across networks of teachers at three “adaptation sites” and disseminate both products and implementation research results through the R+P Resource Center.

This summer the ISME will host an R+P Collaboratory “Inquiry Group” of 40 top flight STEM researchers and education practitioners from across the country focused on the transition to disciplinary practices in the latest wave of educational standards. Over two days they will begin to delve into the implications for practice inherent in the NGSS and Common Core—and identify productive instructional strategies and research priorities. 

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National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Conference

Twelve current members and recent alums of the UW Institute for Science + Math Education recently presented at the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Conference in April including Philip Bell, Andy Shouse, Megan Bang, Carrie Tzou, Leah Bricker, Katie Van Horne, Giovanna Scalone, Paul Sutton, Elaine Klein, Elizabeth “Biz” Wright, Elly Walsh, Blakely Tsurusaki, and Veronica McGowan.


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