The project is an extended planning grant that leverages the growing existence of and interest in green school buildings and uses this as an opportunity to involve students in STEM activities relevant to their environment. The goal is to produce an action plan for transforming the middle school science and mathematics curriculum by rethinking the content that is taught, the ways in which students and teachers can engage effectively with that content, and the role that technology can play to ensure wide access to the data and to the new curriculum. By doing so, the project could help a new generation learn to apply STEM knowledge and practices to decisions throughout their lives.
AAAS has a unique capacity to bring together highly qualified people and prestigious institutions to work towards a common purpose, and that ability is fully displayed in this proposal. The project assembles experts in all related fields (middle school teachers, university faculty in STEM and in education and cognition, researchers, curriculum experts, and technology developers), which is an effective strategy to surface the best ideas, ensure broad ownership, and provide leadership. The development process moves from meetings of experts to a prototype that undergoes limited testing. The project uses web-based technologies for a number of purposes, including to share real time data on green buildings and to foster collaboration and teamwork. Because of this, the project could disseminate readily to other schools and even to informal institutions.
The project has a number of deliverables. These include three documents: a needs assessment related to the theme, a conceptual framework that connects disciplines and identifies boundaries, and an instructional framework that includes the design principles and the supporting technologies. In addition, the products include a single prototype activity with limited field testing and a blueprint for the use of technology and data sharing in curriculum design. The project begins with national discipline-specific learning goals (AAAS Project 2061, the National Research Council, the College Board, and Achieve) and builds on those goals and themes. The products include a new form of materials development based on current research and the commonly held belief that schools need to leverage resources and technologies in order to involve learners in more interesting and relevant activities that focus on important ideas.