NSF supported STEM disciplines: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Education, Mathematical Sciences, Physics, and Technology.

This project will build upon the existing partnership between ETSU and North Side Elementary, a school located within an older neighborhood in Johnson City, TN (population 57,000). North Side Elementary is a low-performing school with declining enrollment; approximately 95% of the students receive free or reduced price lunches, and was at risk of closure. Instead, the school has been classified as a signature school of science and mathematics, and has received school board approval to launch an exciting experiment to base the entire K-5 curriculum at North Side on Science. The Science First! GK-12 project seeks to strengthen and expand the partnership between ETSU and North Side Elementary leading to the following outcomes: fellows and teachers will create classroom materials for an entire, stand-alone K-5 curriculum that is standards-based, science-driven, and science-motivated; these materials will be class tested, assessed, published, and widely disseminated; and Johnson City?s unified Middle School and Junior High School administrators will work with the PIs, fellows and teachers to plan for similar curricular revision at the 6-9 grade levels

This project?s Intellectual Merit is the potential to affect every student in a small school with an enrollment of 300. It is expected that about 500 children who are either in school or enter kindergarten during the life of the grant will be directly affected by the new curriculum. A complete set of curricular materials will be developed, leading to the potential to launch a curricular event of large national impact, since interdisciplinary education driven by science will be a model that others might wish to emulate, This projects will immerse students in an interdisciplinary curriculum that will enjoy local and national attention, involvement of parents, efforts to continue the project at the middle school level, and the potential for replication and adaptation, all oh which contribute to ?broader impact? of the project.

Project Report

represented a collaboration between East Tennessee State University and Johnson City Schools in which math and science graduate students worked with teachers at North Side Elementary School to invigorate the teaching of math and science, to bring the graduate fellows’ research into the classroom, to improve the teachers’ math and science content knowledge, and to improve the communication skills of the graduate fellows. Outcomes of the grant: The grant outcomes included evidence of progress on the part of the graduate fellows, the elementary students, and their teachers. As a result of their participation in the NSF GK-12 Science First! grant, the graduate fellows felt that they had become more confident communicators and they had strengthened their collaboration skills, two primary goals of the GK-12 program. Many noted that they had developed an ability to break down topics or to simplify explanations as the source of their improved communication. In the classroom, fellows often described aspects of their research during instruction, and most had the opportunity to incorporate their research into lessons on a basic level. Teachers and graduate fellows developed their collaboration skills over the course of the grant. This was aided in part by clearly defining participant roles and responsibilities, and their mutual respect as content and pedagogy experts. Besides having a graduate fellow (content expert) in the classroom, teachers participated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses and workshops during each year of the grant. The final year’s (2012-2013) teacher and fellow surveys showed: 100% of the teachers reported that their STEM content knowledge had increased as a result of participating in the grant, and 100% of the fellows perceived that the participating teachers’ content knowledge has increased as a result of working with them on the grant. Science First! and its participants raised the understanding of STEM content and furthered its incorporation into all areas of North Side Elementary School’s curriculum. Student test scores on statewide assessments of both math and science showed significant improvement over the course of the grant. Finally, the grant provided young, male and female scientists in the classroom on a weekly basis and this allowed students from this high poverty/diverse school to see and envision a future for themselves that included attending college and a career in a STEM field. Furthermore, the graduate fellows established relationships and discovered the importance of serving as role models for these young students. Products of the grant: The most visible product is the On-Line Resource Center (ORC), which was developed by the graduate fellows from a Google site as a repository of lessons and resources created and used over the course of the grant. It will continue to be accessed by teachers at North Side Elementary School. The book, Integrating Math & Science: STEM Lessons from the NSF GK-12 Science First! Grant, and its accompanying electronic resources, compiled from lessons posted on the grant’s On-Line Resource Center (ORC), was distributed throughout the Johnson City School System’s elementary schools and fifth grade teachers at Indian Trail Intermediate School. This will serve as a model for STEM curriculum development. In addition, the legacy of this grant will continue to impact North Side faculty and administration as they utilize the outdoor classroom, fossil pit, collection of skulls, STEM books, computers, iPads, interactive whiteboards, document cameras, and non-expendable classroom materials. Also, the STEM content knowledge the teachers gained will continue to impact students at North Side Elementary for years to come. A set of guidemaps (elementary, middle, and secondary grades) comparing the Tennessee State Science Standards to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was created by one fellow in order to compile the science lessons and produce the book, Integrating Math & Science: STEM Lessons from the NSF GK-12 Science First! Grant. Throughout the grant, science lessons posted on the on-line resource center were linked to Tennessee State Science Standards. With the proposed change to the NGSS, the printed resource was aligned to the NGSS through the creation and use of the guidemaps. The guidemaps have been shared through numerous presentations and sent upon request to the Science Standards Committee for the State of Tennessee. They were posted to ETSU’s GK-12 website, www.etsu.edu/cas/gk/, and ETSU’s STEM Hub website, www.netstemhub.com/ngss-k-12-guidemaps. Members of the NSF GK-12 Science First! Grant leadership team will present on May 30, 2014 at the Eighth Annual ETSU STEM Education Conference. This presentation will focus on the genesis of the project, activities of teachers and fellows in the school, and a brief study of the gains made by participating students.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Graduate Education (DGE)
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Program Officer
Sonia Ortega
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East Tennessee State University
Johnson City
United States
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