As people engage in real-life situations, they draw from their full knowledge base and skillset. Integrating science, engineering, mathematics, computational thinking and literacy in educational experiences for pre-college students can better prepare students for real-world situations while also allowing teachers to add engineering and computing to the school day without diminshing their focus on mathematics and literacy. At the same time, we know children only spend about 18% of their waking hours in formal school environments -- thus we can promote learning by capitalizing on the time spent in out-of-school settings and making connections across school and out-of-school settings.
In this project, we integrate computational thinking into the PictureSTEM curriculum (which integrates STEM+literacy), develop extension activities to further support computing learning, develop science center exhibits, and develop resources for parents to help K-2nd grade students learn engineering design and computational thinking skills while also developing proficiency in mathematics, science, and literacy.
At the same time, we develop assesment frameworks, tools and approaches and conduct research on the student learning that takes place in the school and science center settings. Specifically, we investigate:
- What does student learning look like in an integrated STEM+C school-based environment?
- What does integration of STEM+C in K-2 classrooms look like?
- How do K-2 students demonstrate engineering thinking in the refined PictureSTEM+C curriculum? (and How is this different from the ways K-2 demonstrated engineering thinking with the original Picture STEM curriculum?)
- How do K-2 students demonstrate computational thinking in the refined PictureSTEM+C curriculum?
- What does student learning look like in an integrated STEM+C informal learning environment?
- What does integration of STEM+C in a science center look like?
- How do K-2 students demonstrate engineering thinking as they engage with the STEM+C exhibits?
- How do K-2 students demonstrate computational thinking as they engage with the STEM+C exhibits?
- In what ways (if at all) do students make connections across the school and science center (and potentially other) settings?
This project is supported by a National Science Foundation grant.