The purpose of this study is to examine reflections of the design process of the Rube Goldberg machines on prospective science teachers’ STEM awareness. A mixed design approach was opted for in this research. Data were obtained using learning diaries and a STEM awareness scale. Quantitative data was analyzed using a paired samples test. Content analysis was also used for dealing with the qualitative data. The results showed that, based on the findings obtained from both forms of data, Rube Goldberg machines have a positive influence on the STEM awareness of prospective science teachers. The prospective science teachers who took part in this research explained that Rube Goldberg machines are particularly effective in learning science concepts related to simple machines, although it was not one of the purposes of this research. Consequently, future research could be conducted to examine the effectiveness of Rube Goldberg machines in learning basic science concepts related to simple machines.
This article describes key features of a hybrid professional development (PD) program that was designed to prepare elementary classroom teachers to mentor preservice teachers for effective science instruction. Five classroom teachers who were new to our mentor training participated in the study to document the impacts of the PD sequence. The PD combined an in-person immersion into the components of effective science instruction with online modules centered on learner-supportive mentoring practices. The authors detail key aspects of this hybrid program and discuss its impacts on the cooperating teachers’ ability to facilitate effective mentoring conversations with preservice teachers. Findings indicated that mentors who engaged in the hybrid face-to-face and online PD more effectively coached their mentees and displayed specific shifts in their approach to mentor conversations. Participants showed statistically significant increases in their ability to use coaching as a default mentoring stance, to focus on evidence of students’ science learning, and to draw on a consistent framework for effective science instruction for their conversations. These findings support a hybrid model of PD for mentoring and create potential for exploring a fully online sequence to promote effective mentoring in future work.
This study used the framework of technological pedagogical and content knowledge (TPACK) to examine how elementary education preservice teachers integrated technology in science units that they designed after completing courses on science education and technology integration. The findings indicate that technologies included at the end of lessons were associated with higher order thinking, while those included at the beginning or middle of lessons were focused more on lower order thinking and presenting content. Further, frequently used technology-rich activities such as viewing videos and PowerPoint presentations were associated with lower order thinking, while activities such as completing an interactive whiteboard activity or having students make presentations or videos included more opportunities to develop higher order thinking. Implications from this research suggest that science educators and teacher educators should focus more on technologies that support higher -order thinking and support course work with special attention to technology in the context of designing engaging science instruction.
As part of a graduate course for supporting K-12 teachers’ use of technology in teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, teachers worked in teams to create workshops for youth at a Boys & Girls Club site. Teachers used curriculum kits from the Engineering is Elementary project of the Museum of Science, Boston, together with technological resources including iPads, to plan and conduct workshops with four sessions of 8 hours each. A mixed-methods evaluation examined perceptions of 36 youth regarding science and engineering. The youth (Grades 2 to 8) self-identified as 47% African-American, 33% Hispanic/Latino, 3% Asian, and 17% as other/Caucasian/mixed ethnicity. After the workshops, boys and girls more strongly agreed with an engineering-related question, that they liked thinking of new and better ways of doing things, and they agreed more strongly that they knew what scientists did for their jobs. Also after the workshops, girls more strongly agreed they knew what engineers did for their jobs, reaching a similar level as boys, whose responses did not change significantly. Focus group data aligned with the survey responses for most questions. Overall, the study suggested benefits of the program to participating youth, an indicator supporting this teacher preparation model.