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Agency in Sustained Problem-Based Inquiry: Learning Science Through and As Innovation

Primary Investigator(s): Leslie Herrenkohl

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Period: 8/15/2010 - 7/31/2014

A partnership of learning scientists and science educators from the University of Washington’s College of Education (UW-COE) and Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center, and district leaders, curriculum specialists, and teachers from the Bellevue School District (BSD) propose to conduct a research and development project to improve elementary science teaching and learning. The project addresses DR-K12 Challenge 2, “How can all students be assured the opportunity to learn significant STEM content?”. In addressing Challenge 2, this project will also have implications for Challenge 3, “How can we enhance the ability of teachers to provide STEM education?” . The project involves the iterative design, delivery and testing of science inquiry environments that offer diverse groups of 2nd and 5th grade students choice and agency to inquire about authentic, socially-consequential science problems. A major goal of our work is to improve ways to engage students and teachers in creative and productive aspects of scientific inquiry that many argue are often absent in classrooms (e.g., Alberts, 2000; Bereiter & Scardamalia, 2009; Egan, 2008; Lehrer, et al., 2000; Metz, 1995).