How do eggs become chickens and other living things? Where does food come from and where does it go next? Why do clouds form at some times but not others?
These are some of the questions middle school students from five GPAEA districts are trying to “figure out” as part of Iowa’s OpenSciEd project. An Iowa REAP CEP Education grant-funded equipment, materials, and supported the professional development associated with the field-test units. Burlington, Centerville, Davis County, Sigourney, and Ottumwa are currently involved along with 10 other districts statewide. Video of Chelsea Thordarson’s 6th-grade class in Davis County was featured in OpenSciEd’s presentation at NSTA’s National Convention this spring!
Iowa adopted a specific sequence of middle school standards that is unique and appropriate for our state. There are currently no Iowa-aligned, NGSS-designed, full-year middle school science curricula that have been identified in the marketplace. Iowa students and teachers need high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials and associated professional development experiences.
Feedback from Iowa teachers and students is being used to revise the materials. This field testing will help create a base for an Iowa-adaptable curriculum that will never be available through current vendors. OpenSciEd is designed to be a locally driven initiative. Upon completion, the materials will be freely and equitably available to anyone and can be customized to suit the needs of each district.
Preliminary data from Iowa classrooms is showing significant, positive, classroom shifts towards a more student-centered classroom such as:
- Students conducting investigations, solving problems, and engaging in discussions with teachers’ guidance.
- Students discussing open-ended questions that focus on the strength of the evidence used to generate claims.
- Facts and terminology learned as needed while developing explanations and designing solutions supported by evidence-based arguments and reasoning.
Public release of the first units will begin August 15, 2019. Two units per grade will be released each year for a total of 6 units per grade. Iowa’s AEA consultants will release their recommended Scope and Sequence of the units in August and are planning professional development support for districts interested in adopting this OER resource beginning in October 2019.
Davis County featured at OpenSciEd’s presentation at NSTA’s National Convention: