Virginia Association of Science Teachers

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  • JVSE Vol. 4 No. 2

In This Issue

Themes: I. Creating a Love for Science and II. Science as Researchers

From the Editor, Table of Contents, Letter to the Editor  Full text (member login)

Notes: "A Stimulating Science Vocabulary Environment"  Marlow Ediger, Full article (member login); "BACON’s Origin Story"  Matt Shields,  Full article (member login)

  • "A Pilot Study of Online Simulations and Problem-based Learning in a Chemistry Classroom"  Trina L. Spencer, and Tracy M. Walker 

Abstract:  Educators know that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is crucial for student success in the 21st century. Interest in these areas begins in elementary school and elementary teachers need to be aware of strategies that promote this learning. This paper will explore inquiry-based instructional strategies as a method for generating student interest in science. Inquiry is a process that students use to resolve uncertainty. Grounded in the work of John Dewey, inquiry requires a person to use reflective and critical thinking skills. Inquiry-based instruction is student centered and the teacher is viewed as the facilitator of knowledge and learning. The paper will focus on two inquiry-based instructional strategies: The 5E model and Concept attainment. The 5E model uses five phases: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. The concept attainment model is appropriate for teaching concepts that have a clear set of attributes. This strategy uses a process that allows students to create their own definitions and understanding. Full article (member login)

  • "Twiddlefish STEM Activity Inspired by Research for Teachers Opportunity"  Carrie Lewis 
Abstract:  Spending a summer in the biomechanical engineering laboratories with M3Lab researchers gave teacher, Carrie Lewis, an insight to current challenges and methods being applied to create an autonomous underwater vehicle based on string rays. She used the university engineers‟ research processes to transfer the learning at an elementary level modeling in fish. Instead of building robots out of welded metal, the students are using Lego rods and Mindstorm┬« Motors. Full article (member login)
  • "Exposing Student Misconceptions about Cellular Structure: A Curriculum Topic Study"  Abbie Martin 
Abstract:  Curriculum topic study allows teachers to investigate a specific concept in math or science by summarizing resources, such as, national standards, state standards, and research based instructional methods. In this action research study, the teacher researcher utilizes the curriculum topic study approach to uncover student misconceptions in the area of cellular structure and function. The researcher utilizes a formative assessment probe to find out what high school students believe about the structure of cells and macromolecules prior to teaching a cell unit. The findings identify clear misconceptions concerning the nature of macromolecules and their relationship to cellular structure. Full article (member login)
  • "A Practical Approach to Teaching the Nature of Science"  Linda K. Peterson 
Abstract:  The recent changes in the Virginia Science Standards of Learning provide an opportunity for science educators to thoughtfully incorporate a discussion of the nature of science into the work they currently do with their students. In this way students will come to understand that that nature of science is much more than mere “experimental design” as has often been presented in the past. The purpose of this article is to elucidate the seven key concepts related to the nature of science and to provide a model that teacher can use to help students “make connections between the components of the nature of science and their investigations and the greater body of scientific knowledge and research” (VA SOL Curriculum Framework, Physical Science, p. 4). Full article (member login)
  • "National Standards Connect Disciplines through the Process Skills of Inquiry"  Julia Gooding & Bill Metz 
Abstract:  Why is it that the educational community continues to bombard and confuse educators with an ever increasing lexicon of descriptive terms? The subject matter commonly taught in schools is segregated based upon accepted national content specific standards. While the content may vary between and within classrooms, the skills necessary for student success are more alike than they are different. These essential learning strategies, described by a variety of terms, all have the same focal point. The real basis for learning is in the process skills that are employed in each of the curricular areas and should be considered interdisciplinary connections and cognitive links, rather than disparate entities. Full article (member login)
  • "University of Virginia’s Research Experience for Teachers: Program Overview and Outcomes"  Juliet Trail 
Abstract:  The role of teachers in the schools is of great importance for cultivating student engagement and academic achievement in the STEM fields, since teachers are in regular contact over a number of years with students during critical stages of their academic and personal development. Teacher participation in an RET program has been linked to student achievement gains, as tracked by standardizes test scores in the sciences, and to increased teacher retention (Silverstein, 2009). The University of Virginia RET site is hosted by the UVA Center for Diversity in Engineering (CDE), under the direction of Principal Investigator (PI) Carolyn Vallas, Director of the CDE. The RET site has the following specific program focus: “Instructional kits and modules for integrating biomedical and nanoscale sciences in school classrooms.” Participants use their research as a springboard for the development of new classroom teaching materials. Teaching materials include hands-on kits to encourage active learning and to provide students with new knowledge, skills, and abilities. Full article (member login)
  • "Nanotechnology: A Study of Atomic Level Simulations in Materials for STEM Curriculum"  Randy Applegate 

Abstract:  All too often, STEM subjects elicit the “WIIFM” (pronounced wiff-em,) or “What‟s in it for me?” response. My students always want to know, “How does this topic affect me?” and “Why should I care?” Captivating students with nanotechnology is easy. Being a relatively new field, the subject escalates students‟ curiosity; and, with some simple demonstrations, it can explore some of their “why” and “how” questions through very fascinating discussions of realms of possibilities. With nanotechnology, examples are readily available to demonstrate how science is currently affecting them and for exploring what the future holds. Full article (member login)

  • "Student Teachers and Action Research Projects: Developing School Leaders in Science Education"  George R. Meadows
Abstract:  Classroom-centered Action Research Projects are an important component of the M.S. in Elementary Education Program at the University of Mary Washington‟s College of Education. This article provides a summary and discussion of the projects completed by students in the Science Specialization area of the Master‟s program. Full article (member login)
  • Book Review: Michele K. Lombard,  A review of the book Madigan’s Discoveries: Bee Careful  by Susan Elwell  Full article (member login)

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