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Elementary STEM Profile

Investigating Conceptual Foundations for a Transdisciplinary Model Integrating Computer Science into the Elementary STEM Curriculum


Computing has become an integral part of the practice of in modern science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. As a result, the STEM+Computing Partnership (STEM+C) program seeks to integrate the use of computational approaches in K-12 STEM teaching and learning and understand how this integration can improve STEM learning, engagement, and persistence. Computational Thinking (CT) is a relatively new educational focus and a clear need for learners as a 21st century skill. This prokect will address this challenging new area for young learners, an area greatly in need of research and learning materials. Broward County Schools' literacy and curriculum coordinator team will work with their staff and teachers to develop Problem Based Learning (PBL) integrated Computer Science (CS) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) modules, and professional development materials around these modules. A University of Chicago research team will conduct strong research studies to evaluate the effectiveness of these materials and what contributes to that effectiveness. The collaboration with the well known non profit leads to strong potential for wide dissemination of materials, as the site is used very frequently by teachers and after-school/informal educators to obtain instructional materials.

In a partnership between Broward County Public Schools (FL), researchers at the University of Chicago, and, the Principal Investigators propose to integrate Computer Science (CS) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the grade 3-5 level within the literacy block of the school day. This period is when the science curriculum is covered, in units that currently cover integrated content in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They plan to add 6 Problem Based Learning (PBL) units to this curriculum that integrate CS and STEM. They will reach 84 grade 3 - 5 classrooms at 14 schools. They will pilot the modules 14 schools, and later, conduct an efficacy trial with approximately 84 teachers and 1680 students in each condition (modules, no modules). They will measure both achievement and attitudes towards STEM and CS.