Using Simulations and Freely Available Instructional Materials to Teach Science

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1 Using Simulations and Freely Available Instructional Materials to Teach Science Bruce A. Fuchs, Ph.D., Director Office of Science Education National Institutes of Health, DHHS

2 Inquiry in Science Inquiry refers to the way scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on evidence Scientists ask questions about the world What causes earthquakes? Is the climate changing? What causes human illness? Inquiry in different fields of science is similar Rigorous reasoning Considers evidence (observations, lab experiments, etc.) Hypothesis testing Build models and/or theories that are predictive and subject to further testing Inquiry is central to the nature of science

3 Inquiry in Science Education Inquiry refers to a way of teaching science that incorporates aspects of the scientist s approach Inquiry can be used to teach science content Inquiry is also a skill students should master Inquiry is not Best learned simply by reading about it A procedure that can be memorized (e.g., the scientific method )

4 Inquiry in Other Occupations Inquiry is used in other careers not just science Physician diagnosing illness in a patient Assembly line worker investigating production line errors Office worker using database to solve customer s problem Businesses report that employees with problem solving and critical thinking skills are in short supply These skills are rewarded in the U.S. economy

5 Teaching the New Basic Skills Richard J. Murnane and Frank Levy Skills need for a Middle Class Job Read at a 9th grade level Math at a 9th grade level Solve problems where hypotheses required Ability to work in groups with diverse people Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing Ability to use personal computers for basic tasks 50% (or more) of students will not get these skills

6 New Division of Labor Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane Four types of workplace tasks Routine cognitive (filing, bookkeeping) Routine physical (assembly line) Expert Thinking (solving new problems) Complex Communication (eliciting, conveying, interpreting info) What jobs will be computerized? What jobs will be offshored?

7 New Division of Labor The Adult Occupational Distribution: 1969 and % 35% 30% 25% % of Employed Adults 20% 15% 10% 5% % Service Workers Blue Collar Workers Administrative Support Workers Sales Related Occupations Technicians Professional Occupations Managers and Administrators 1999

8 National Academy of Sciences Research on Workplace Skills #1- Future Skill Demands High skill jobs Low skill jobs #2- Workplace skills through science education Problem solving, critical thinking Working in teams Oral and written communication #3- Assessing workplace skills

9 Features of Classroom Inquiry Students engage in scientific questions Students give priority to evidence Students form explanations from evidence Student connects explanation to scientific knowledge Students evaluate their explanations in the light of alternatives Students can communicate and justify proposed explanations

10 NIH Curriculum Supplements Series Targets grades K teaching units developed to date Developed in collaboration with NIH scientists Created with outside curriculum development experts (e.g., BSCS) Interactive teaching units that combine cuttingedge science from the NIH with innovative pedagogy. Over 350,000 supplements requested by educators in more than 16,700 zip codes

11 Open Wide and Trek Inside (Grades 1-2) Lessons What Do Mouths Do? Open Wide! What s Inside? Let s Investigate Tooth Decay! What Keeps Your Mouth Healthy? What Have You Learned about the Mouth?

12 Open Wide and Trek Inside (Grades 1-2) Mouth Mirror

13 Open Wide and Trek Inside (Grades 1-2) The Apple Investigation

14 Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases (Grades 9-12) Deadly Disease Among Us Disease Detectives Superbugs: An Evolving Concern Protecting the Herd Making Hard Decisions

15 Vaccination-Herd Immunity Phenomenon that occurs when many people in a population are immune to a disease Some susceptible people are also protected Disease cannot be effectively spread

16 Two-Day Disease Day One- Sick-Hold up RED card (Infectious) Day Two- Sick- Hold up PINK card (Infectious) Day Three- Well- Hold up Black card (Immune)

17 Two-Day Disease

18 Two-Day Disease - Round 2 If you are Immune hold up Black card only after you are touched Day One- Sick-Hold up RED card (Infectious) Day Two- Sick- Hold up PINK card (Infectious) Day Three- Well- Hold up Black card (Immune)

19 Herd Immunity Homework Use these data for the web-based simulator What immunization level is required for herd immunity?

20 Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases (Grades 9-12) Protecting the Herd

21 Herd Immunity Homework Activity 4-Protecting the Herd iseases/activities/activity4.htm

22 Doing Science: The Process of Scientific Inquiry Inquiry in the foreground of lesson Discuss how scientists work Evidence Teamwork Sharing data and explanations Working with questions Scientific Testable Solve a community health problem

23 Challenges to Inquiry Preparing teachers Inquiry intimidating if teacher is unsure of content Professional development Supportive curricular materials Myths about inquiry All instruction should be inquiry based Students must generate their own questions Good hands-on curricular materials = good inquiry Inquiry is independent of subject content matter

24 Assessment: A Major Challenge Most state and national-level assessments do not measure inquiry skills We measure what is cheap and easy We don t measure some things we value most Assessment should measure both content knowledge and specific inquiry skills Business assesses these skills in prospective employees Schools need effective, inexpensive ways to assess these skills

25 NIH Office of Science Education Bruce A. Fuchs, Ph.D., Director Office of Science Education Office of Science Policy National Institutes of Health, DHHS

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