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Try Science


Course Type:
In-service Teacher Introductory Science Content Course

Course Size:
On-Line Format: 25 in Study Groups of 5 - 7

Course Summary

Try Science is the introductory course in an on-line graduate program Science in Education designed for K-8 science educators and curriculum coordinators. The program is built upon a combination of inquiry-based science content and pedagogical instruction designed to extend understanding of science concepts, experience alternative teaching and assessment techniques for direct transfer into their own classrooms.

Each course in this series is facilitated by two faculty members, a scientist and a science educator. The former focuses on developing science content understanding while the latter engages students in bringing scientific inquiry into the classroom.

All students and facilitators function through a web-based, asynchronous on-line format in which all parties perform experiments, engage in threaded discussions and complete assignments over discrete windows of time, but with the flexibility necessary for individuals to work around professional schedules. Hands-on experiments utilizing actual data occur using simple equipment in the student's home, combined with web-video and digital data presented in the on-line format. Students work with their peers and facilitators in an inquiry-based process of discovery, revision and reporting that models the collaborative method practiced by scientists. Significant effort is directed at helping the in-service teachers transition their newly found content knowledge and pedagogical skills into the classroom through analysis of classroom events in case studies, student work and videos.

As the first course in the series, Try Science focuses on developing a broad student understanding of science from the perspective of inquiry and science as a human endeavor. Subsequent courses in the series pair content and pedagogy, providing discipline specific focus in physics, biology, earth science, engineering and ecology while examining pedagogical strategies determining student background knowledge and conceptions in need of further development, the role of the teacher in an inquiry centered classroom, curricular reform, assessing inquiry, and literacy and mathematics within science.

For Dr. Doubler's reflections on the course and its design, see Try Science: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

Students in Try Science are in-service elementary and middle school teachers from urban and rural school districts across the United States and world. While some students have a scientific undergraduate major, others possess little formal scientific training. Try Science is the first step in the science sequence at TERC and often represents the first inquiry-based approach to learning science that the students encounter.

Course Goals:

This course seeks to help in-service teachers provide high quality inquiry based science content to K-8 students by:
  1. Developing understanding of key science concepts through inquiry.
  2. Learning effective strategies for planning and teaching science
  3. Planing and carrying out inquiry-based science investigations with children.

Course Content:

This course focuses on 3 primary tasks:
  1. Learning science content by doing science
    • Inquiry skills
    • Properties & behavior of water
    • Transfer of energy
    • Density
    • Displacement
    • Buoyancy
    • Floating
    • Melting
    • Freezing
    • Phase changes
    • Latent heat
    • Equilibrium
    • Condensation
    • Convection
    • Conduction
    • Making observations
    • Generating questions
    • Making predictions
    • Measuring
    • Refining experimental design
    • Using statistics
    • Using models
    • Generating explanations
    • Reflecting
  2. Considering issues of teaching and assessment
  3. Trying & sharing the results of new curriculum strategies in your classroom

Teaching Materials:

Materials available for this course on this website include:

Assessment:

Assessment is performed by the co-facilitators based on student contributions to on-line discussions, submission of select journal entries, results of home experiments and projects which demonstrate student understanding of the scientific process, inquiry and relevant content. Facilitators are provided a detailed rubric for objective analysis of student contributions to the on-line discussions and the quality of feedback offered to the group.

References and Notes:

This course is taught exclusively in an on-line format. All students in the program, regardless of job assignment, are pursuing a graduate degree beyond a pre-existing undergraduate program.

The Science in Education program was designed by TERC and Lesley University with support from the Department of Education and is offered to students through Lesley and Walden Universities.