Science becomes nexus for learning through iEvolve
An ambitious project led by BGSU aims for no less than transforming the educational lives of children and teachers by training them to be true "citizen scientists," able, as poet William Blake said, "to see a world in a grain of sand."
Funded by a $7.28 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the five-year project titled "iEvolve with STEM" will work with two K-12 school districts as core partners. Perkins Local Schools and Sandusky City Schools students in grades 3-8 and their teachers will collaborate with scientists at BGSU and other partnering colleges and universities and nonprofit agencies in a groundbreaking new curriculum.
Project leader Dr. Bob Midden, a BGSU chemistry faculty member and director of the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education, said, "We want to improve science education by allowing even the younger children to participate in real research that addresses real scientific issues that have a bearing on the health and welfare of people in their communities and elsewhere. The goal is to give them a focus and a context for their learning that helps them make the connections that deepen their understanding."
The basis of iEvolve (Inquiry and Engagement to Invigorate and Optimize Learning for Everyone with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is that science becomes the nexus for the study of everything, from language arts and reading, mathematics and social sciences to the arts, Midden said.
Dr. Eugene Sanders, superintendent and CEO of Sandusky City Schools, said he is excited about the idea of "merging theory and practice, in which our students can learn science and apply it in a very practical way."
The program comes just in time for schools to address the higher core standards the state has adopted, said Perkins Superintendent James Gunner. "The new standards are much more rigorous and will be in place by 2015. They call for more higher-order thinking skills and are really asking kids to think more, analyze more, synthesize more information and produce results."
iEvolve with STEM will start with students and teachers in grades 3-5 and then add students in grades 6-8, starting in 2015. Teachers will participate in three years of professional development that will involve a workshop each summer and monthly meetings during the academic year.
Among the numerous other external partners are Ohio State University Stone Lab, the University of Toledo, Lourdes University, Owens Community College, the Toledo Zoo and Metroparks of the Toledo Area.
In addition to Midden, co-principal investigators for the grant include superintendents Gunner and Sanders, Dr. Emilio Duran, School of Teaching and Learning, and Mitch Magditch, curator of education for the Toledo Zoo. A number of other BGSU faculty will play major roles in the project as well.
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