This site has two target audiences:
Our first goal is to design a resource for teachers who want to explore the selected science topics from the standpoint of science that can be used, immediately, by students. While a lot of science is “relevant” to students not all science is actually “useful” to students in their daily lives. We have focused on science topics that relate to the built environment rather than the natural environment. In that sense, all of the content of this site relates engineering to science and science to engineering. High quality video content presents “case studies” of construction projects that provide an up-close and personal look at the people and engineering challenges that surround students everyday. After working through the video and text content of teach unit, a teacher will find ideas for activities that start classroom implementation of these ideas. The activities are not all fully developed. Over time we will be working with teachers to bring a variety of perspectives on how to help students see science at work in their everyday world. The classroom videos also provide examples of teachers using everyday examples from the built environment to teach science.
Learners of All Ages
The second audience are the students whose teachers are employing the materials from this site as well as students searching on their own. But more broadly, we felt that people of all ages might be interested in how science is at work in the everyday. Given that our learning environment is the built environments of our homes and communities and the infrastructure that supports them, we feel that people of all ages will be interested seeing how science works with engineering and technology to make the environments in which we live, work, and spend leisure time.
A premise of this project is that much of the content in science is presented with sparse context or in a context that does not have much immediate meaning to high school or community college students. What is your reaction to this premise? What is your favored approach to teaching science content? Why? What is your premise?
The ultimate goal of teaching is that students will be able to use what is learned as a result of classroom instruction. A premise of this project is that teaching for transfer, that is expecting students to be able to respond to problems different from those presented in class, requires that students recognize how knowledge is used in real problems. Further, transfer problems are a more sensitive assessment of learning than ones which recapitulate what was directly presented in class. What is your reaction to this premise? What is your favored approach? Why? What is your premise?
The specific approach to transfer we focus on in this project is the school-to-life transfer. That is, we focus on teaching science in a way that promotes students directly using science knowledge in their lives. What is your reaction? How much of a science course should be devoted to this kind of knowledge?
Construction engineering problems were chosen as one way to focus on science knowledge that students can use. Construction engineering can be seen as a “seed” idea for how to put science to use in the lives of students. What are other aspects of the lives of students can be used to make science useful now?
Designing connections to your curriculum—Discuss your curriculum and how this approach can fit.
What would be examples of science concepts that students actually put to use in their lives? (This might best be expressed by contrasting how a student who understands the science reacts to a situation compared to a student who does not.)
How do uses of science in real-life differ from the way students learn science in school?
What is the relationship between school science and the science that gets used in everyday living, working, and playing? Is it the same content or different?
Will emphasizing a specific context (e.g. construction) affect the science content that is actually learned?