An inquiry approach in using Bioastronomy as a context for learning science in middle schools. Craig Brown Deputy Principal Sylvania High School Australian Schools Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM Project 2007-2009)
What is Bioastronomy?
An integrated discipline of Science which aims to answer THREE questions:
Is there life beyond Earth?
What is the origin of life on Earth?
What is the fate of life in the universe?
Integrated Unit Overview ‘The Search for Life on Mars’ Science – Learning about bioastronomy 6 weeks 22 hours Maths –What maths skills are needed to achieve mission goals? Technology– Using robotics to obtain Martian rock for testing Primary – COGS style unit based around bioastronomy Link – Peer mentoring & teacher associate visits
Bioastronomy and Contextual Learning in the Middle School
This project aimed to use Bioastronomy as a context to develop a fully integrated science, technology and mathematics unit for both primary and secondary students.
The context of the two units was the return of a Martian rock sample so it could be examined for past or present life.
The units was aimed at developing knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitudes in the Middle School.
Year 8 students from four high schools completed approximately 40 hours of integrated course instruction and acted as peer tutors to engage students from local primary schools in Years 5/6 in a complementary curriculum unit involving the programming of a model robotic Martian Rover and the analysis of Martian soil sample.
Intended Teacher Outcomes
Develop experience in the design of programs using contextual learning and the NSW QTL framework.
Develop skills in robotics and related computer technologies as well as knowledge and expertise in current scientific research.
Collaborate across KLAs, a range of different school types and various educational and other organisations.
Develop skills in dealing with teaching and learning issues related to middle schooling and aspects of literacy and numeracy within teaching programs.
Integrate cross curricular perspectives and mentor other colleagues in defined areas of professional learning.
Intended Student Outcomes
Develop leadership, team building and peer tutoring skills.
Gain a better understanding of how Science, Mathematics and Technology work together in the real world and its significance.
Develop deep knowledge and understanding, problem solving and experience high level engagement.
Engage in co-operative learning, research skills and capitalise on the strengths that individuals bring to team situations.
Gain insight and appreciation of how students learn and are nurtured into fields of scientific endeavour.
Experience close partnership development between educators and other organisations and recognise the value that organisations bring to such endeavours.
Beverly Hills Girls High School
Beverly Hills North Public School
Caringbah High School
Caringbah North Public School
Georges River College Hurstville Boys Campus
Hurstville Public School
Narwee Public School
Sylvania Heights Public School
Sylvania High School
Sylvania Public School
Australian Centre for Astrobiology (ACA)
Macquarie ICT Innovagtions Centere
Mars Society of Australia (MSA)
National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
University of Western Sydney
Teacher Associates mentoring teachers.
Peer Tutoring-Mentoring with SETI Teacher associate (Science/Maths)
Peer Tutoring-Mentoring at MacICT – (Robotics)
Peer Tutoring-Mentoring in Rocketry - Michael West (Science)
Peer Tutoring-Mentoring in Early Earth - Prof. Malcolm Walter (Science)
Peer Tutoring-Mentoring in ‘Martian Soil’ Testing – Local High Schools (Science/Maths)
Project Findings For Primary Students (University of Western Sydney ) Students had a high level of overall interest in Science, Mathematics, and Technology experiences . Student interest before & after project in order: Technology Science Mathematics The learning experiences improved student knowledge, especially in bioastronomy, rocketry, robotics and conditions for life on early Earth.
Primary student interest in the specific areas of the integrated unit in order were: 1. ICT Robotics (program / playing) 2. IMAX 3. High School visits - microbiology 4. Making rockets 5. Teacher associate activities 6. Making movies eg (Claymation) Project Findings For Primary Students (University of Western Sydney )
Project Findings For Primary Students (University of Western Sydney ) This data suggests the importance of practical activities to support leaning in the primary area . STUDENT ENGAGEMENT?
There were many free responses that made statements that declared positive changes to student values with regard to science and mathematics. “ .. it has changed my views in the way that I now know that there can be many fun projects to do in Science and maths .” “… it has made me more interested and curious because the activities we did was fun and cool.” “… before the Bioastronomy unit I didn't like Maths and now l love Maths and Science more.” Project Findings For Primary Students (University of Western Sydney )
For further information or a copy of the “Search For Life on Mars” DVD C [email_address]