Changing Middle School Science through STEAM

Changing Middle School Science through STEAM

Teresa Franklin (Ohio University, USA), David Chelberg (Ohio University, USA) and Chang Liu (Ohio University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-322-7.ch023
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Virtual environments are a topic of discussion for many in the business and commerce fields. However, K-12 school systems have been slow to embrace technology within the typical classroom environment, much less a virtual environment. This chapter examines the development of Web-based Flash® content, an Interactive Science Lab in Second Life®, and newly created software called the STEAMiE engine being used by rural Appalachian middle school science classrooms in Ohio, USA. Presented are discussions of the design process through the use of teachers as content experts, the designing of games and simulations for middle school children, the changes in teaching strategies of middle school science teachers, and Fellows and the expectations of school administrators, teachers, and students during design and implementation.
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Schools continue to champion the integration of technology into the K-12 classroom although in many cases effective integration to improve student learning has proven to be a difficult problem. Due to budget constraints, teachers’ lack of professional development in the use of technology for teaching and learning, and often a teacher attitude which does not support technology’s value in the classroom, schools continue to struggle in bringing high performance technology into the framework of classroom instruction (Franklin, 1999). While classroom teachers struggle with the integration of technology, the students presently sitting in these classrooms are integrating technology into their daily lives at a rapid pace. These students engage in blogs, mashups, YouTube, virtual games, Club Penguin, Facebook, MySpace and video conferencing at a pace unrecognized by schools (Prensky, 2005).

By not employing technology in the learning process, schools are creating a larger gap between informal learning which occurs at home through the use of multimedia technologies and formal classroom learning which relies primarily on text. This formal text based curriculum found in schools creates a divide between a student’s home life and school life and limits experiential learning that should connect home and school (Downes, 1999).

This chapter examines the design, implementation, and preliminary research concerning the use of digital science games supported by content based on the National Science Education Standards (NSE, in rural middle schools in Appalachian Ohio, USA. The digital science content has been used over the course of two years of a three year National Science Foundation GK-12 grant, Science and Technology Enrichment for Appalachian Middle-schoolers (STEAM) project. The games are being built with three software environments: 1) Flash-based and delivered through the internet, 2) virtual world software [STEAMiE] created by the team of researchers, and 3) the commercial version of the virtual world, Second Life. During the chapter, the term ‘games’ will be used to identify the digital science content modules having a simulation and/or game focus created in the three different software environments by the STEAM project.

The concerns and issues surrounding the use of digital content in the format of games, the development of the STEAM modules (digital science content) in multiple software environments, issues of implementation in schools, changes to teaching and learning strategies by both teachers and Fellows, and future concerns of game play in K-12 schools are within the conversation of this chapter. Upon completion of this chapter, readers will be able to:

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Rhonda Christensen, Gerald Knezek
Chapter 1
A Simulation Primer  (pages 1-24)
Katrin Becker, James R. Parker
This chapter provides an introduction to digital simulations for those interested in using or designing them for instructional purposes. There has... Sample PDF
A Simulation Primer
Chapter 2
Youngkyun Baek
This chapter expands upon the definition of a simulation with two categories: experiential and symbolic. It discusses the interactive, experiential... Sample PDF
Digital Simulation in Teaching and Learning
Chapter 3
Peter R. Albion
Interaction is fundamental to the learning process and game-like 3D online spaces present opportunities for enhancing learning through supporting a... Sample PDF
Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning
Chapter 4
David Williamson Shaffer
Multiculturalism is an essential tool for democratic citizenship in a world made ever more closely interconnected by information technologies. In... Sample PDF
Computers and the End of Progressive Education
Chapter 5
Celina Byers
The desired outcome of instructional game design is to combine the powerful attraction of games and the proven effectiveness of instructional system... Sample PDF
Combining Instructional Design and Game Design
Chapter 6
Helyn Gould, Michael Hughes, Paul Maharg, Emma Nicol
Game-based learning and simulation is a powerful mode of learning, used by industries as diverse as aviation and health sciences. While there are... Sample PDF
The Narrative Event Diagram: A Tool for Designing Professional Simulations
Chapter 7
David Gibson
In order for a digital simulation to provide an artificial teaching environment there needs to be a computational model of the act of teaching... Sample PDF
Modeling Classroom Behaviors in Software Agents
Chapter 8
Sara Dexter
The new technology-enhanced conception of assessment stands in contrast to the traditional view of assessments as tests of a learner’s ability to... Sample PDF
Design Principles for Interactive Learning Environments with Embedded Formative Assessments
Chapter 9
Penny deByl
Three-dimensional virtual learning environments provide students with pedagogic experiences beyond traditional two-dimensional textbook and Web page... Sample PDF
Hybrid 2D/3D Development of Interactive Simulations
Chapter 10
Len Annetta, James Minogue, Shawn Holmes, Meng-Tzu Cheng, Elizabeth Folta, Marta Klesath
This chapter will provide concrete examples of how a research group at North Carolina State University is using case studies as the... Sample PDF
Using Case Studies as the Narrative to Game Design and Development
Chapter 11
Mark Girod
Teacher education is currently facing pressures to demonstrate efficacy in preparing teachers who can affect P-12 student learning gains. Teacher... Sample PDF
Exploring Teacher Problem Solving Using Simulation
Chapter 12
Donguk Cheong, Bokyeong Kim
A computer simulation for improving teaching is expected to remove the potential negative effects on real students while creating an environment... Sample PDF
A Simulation for Improving Teachers' Motivational Skills
Chapter 13
Damián Piccolo, Anna Oskorus
Nearly half of all new teachers leave the field of education within the first five years (Ingersoll, 2003; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2005).... Sample PDF
Designing Commercial Simulations for Teachers
Chapter 14
Scott J. Warren, Richard A. Stein
This chapter discusses the design and use of simulated teaching experiences contextualized through role-play in a multi-user virtual environment as... Sample PDF
Simulating Teaching Experience with Role-Play
Chapter 15
Bokyeong Kim, Donguk Cheong
This chapter presents the theory, structure, and development process used in designing a teaching simulation. simClass was designed to help teachers... Sample PDF
simClass: Simulate Your Class Before You Teach
Chapter 16
Karen Schrier, Charles K. Kinzer
Teacher education that emphasizes the understanding and assessment of ethics can support the creation of an ethically aware and critically engaged... Sample PDF
Using Digital Games to Develop Ethical Teachers
Chapter 17
Shelby P. Morge
Recently adopted 21st Century goals stress the importance of preparing students for a globally competitive society by providing them with... Sample PDF
Modeling in the Classroom Using Squeak Etoys
Chapter 18
Mary Jo Dondlinger, Scott Joseph Warren
This chapter discusses Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as simulated experiences, and presents the conceptual framework that informed the design and... Sample PDF
Alternate Reality Games as Simulations
Chapter 19
Caitlin Kelleher
Self-directed, open-ended projects can enable students to pursue their own interests and lead to deep learning. However, it can be difficult to... Sample PDF
Supporting Open-Ended Programming Assignments
Chapter 20
Kay Kyeongju Seo, Aimee Byk, Chris Collins
How can one bring cognitive apprenticeship into the virtual world? This chapter addresses how to construct a 3D online digital environment that... Sample PDF
Cognitive Apprenticeship Inspired Simulations
Chapter 21
Jae Yeob Jung, Hyung Sung Park
The purpose of this chapter is to explore how learning, by making games, can provide opportunities for higher-order thinking such as problem... Sample PDF
Learning by Doing via Game Making
Chapter 22
Christian Sebastian Loh, Jae Hwan Byun
Game Modification, or Modding, is a unique and valuable way of learning with digital games as well as a means to earn beginners’ stripes in the game... Sample PDF
Modding Neverwinter Nights Into Serious Games
Chapter 23
Teresa Franklin, David Chelberg, Chang Liu
Virtual environments are a topic of discussion for many in the business and commerce fields. However, K-12 school systems have been slow to embrace... Sample PDF
Changing Middle School Science through STEAM
Chapter 24
David Gibson
This chapter discusses how a teaching simulation can embody core characteristics of a complex system. It employs examples of specific frameworks and... Sample PDF
Complex Systems Concepts in Simulations
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