Quinn and Bell: Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators
In this article, the authors argue for the usefulness of DMP in K-12 STEM education. They indicate that DMP is closely aligned with the goals that we previously discussed in A Framework for K-12 Science Education, noting that DMP provides students with the Individual agency to make their own discoveries in the sciences. DMP projects often provide the opportunity to incorporate modeling, specialized scientific processes, and even concepts that cut across scientific domains, thus further validating their alignment with the new Framework for STEM education. However, in order to successfully implement the NGSS standards and DMP projects, teachers must work to shift the focus of their classroom culture towards student-oriented investigation and open discourse between the students and their teachers regarding problem-solving strategies. Furthermore, adequate professional development must be provided for teachers in order to ensure that they know the most effective ways to implement DMP and NGSS standards in their classrooms.
- · Motivation: DMP motivates students by actively engaging them in scientific discovery.
- · Engagement: DMP allows students to directly participate in real-world scientific practices in both informal and formal education environments.
- · Hands-on and minds-on: The authors are careful to mention, however, that hands-on activities must be centered around an educational goal.
Braund and Reiss: Towards a More Authentic Science Curriculum: The contribution of out-of-school learning
The authors argue that teachers need to motivate students to pursue scientific domains after secondary school by taking advantage of out-of-school settings, such as museums, field trips, and technologically-produced virtual worlds. These out-of-school environments help make the goals of science feel more tangible and relevant to students, and a student’s experiences outside of school can provide a wealth of resources to help teachers apply class concepts to the real world. The authors propose an evolutionary model for authentic school science, stating that while labs are one way to help students access natural phenomena in the classroom, students should be able to experience these phenomena in their proper context in out-of-classroom environments.
- · Authenticity and extended practical work: By tapping into out-of-school resources, teachers can expose students to experiences that they would not normally have in the classroom, and can simultaneously make in-class learning objectives feel more authentic.
Both articles discuss theories for engaging students in and out of the classroom and describe how informal learning environments can be used to increase students’ motivation in scientific disciplines. I resonated with the fact that both articles emphasized the role of relevance in motivation, and I think that as teachers, one of the most important things that we can do is incorporate some elements of DMP and out-of-school learning in order to help our students feel like the material we’re teaching has real-world applications. While this might seem obvious, I think that putting this idea into practice on a consistent basis will require a lot of critical thinking about the activities we employ in the classroom.