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Lessons learned from integrating experimental technologies into education National Virtual Observatory Outreach Workshop Space Telescope Science Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Lessons learned from integrating experimental technologies into education National Virtual Observatory Outreach Workshop Space Telescope Science Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lessons learned from integrating experimental technologies into education National Virtual Observatory Outreach Workshop Space Telescope Science Institute Baltimore, MD 11 July 2002 Umesh Thakkar National Center for Supercomputing Applications Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2 Background National Virtual Observatory impact –It will democratize astronomical research: the same data and tools will be available to students and researchers, irrespective of geographical location or institutional affiliation ( –[It] can also be used to teach computational science (Szalay & Gray, 2001, p. 2039). NVO education and outreach complementary strands –Formal education (e.g., K-16) –Informal education (e.g., museums) –Online outreach (e.g., learner-centered interface to the NVO) –News media (e.g., Sciences NetWatch) Review of two examples about integrating technologies into education

3 Example 1: Inquiry-based bioinformatics learning environment Outline –Biology Workbench, a bioinformatics tool –Overview of Biology Student Workbench –Lessons learned Bioinformatics in high school biology classroom via the Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program

4 Biology Workbench ( Biology is becoming an information- driven science. The application of information technology to molecular biology is evolving into a new discipline, bioinformatics. Problem: Huge biological databases and analysis tools with different formats. Solution: Biology Workbench, a bioinformatics tool. Workbench architecture

5 The National Science Foundation workshop report on information technology The report recommends that educational experiences of students include curriculum integration of learning tools that are "open-ended, inquiry-based, group/teamwork-oriented, and relevant to professional career requirements" (NSF, 1998, p. 33). One way to accomplish this is to provide students access to the same information technology tools that scientists have but with addressing the needs, interests, and skills of the students. Tools such as the Biology Workbench are changing how biologists do their work. –Students experiences in classrooms should reflect what biologists do.

6 Biology Student Workbench ( Problem: Difficulty in using the Biology Workbench. Solution: Biology Student Workbench, a collection of tutorials and inquiry- based materials, which help students and teachers to conduct meaningful investigations in molecular biology. –Collaborators include teachers, teacher educators, curriculum designers, biologists, bioinformatics specialists, education researchers, and librarians. Whale study by high school biology students

7 Sickle Cell Anemia: Understanding the molecular biology ( Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) is an inherited blood disorder. It affects about 72,000 Americans. The SCA tutorial looks at the mutation in hemoglobin that causes this disease. The tutorial utilizes the Biology Workbench as well as the Protein Explorer ( –Provide students with opportunities to learn how to search databases for DNA and protein sequences and then how to align and manipulate these sequences. –Gain a deeper understanding about the molecular biology of SCA, an extremely common and painful disease. For more information, please visit National Center for Biotechnology Information (

8 Gene Structure Relationship Understanding Evolution Constructing meaning from information

9 The Inquiry Page: Learning begins with questions ( The Inquiry Page performs two roles: –It helps to build a community of inquiry focusing on bioinformatics. –It helps to foster the creation and adaptation of inquiry units by any learner in the community. Project units include: –How are different organisms related? –How do I use the Biology Workbench? Using the spin-off feature, each unit can be adapted to individual needs. Inquiry cycle

10 Lessons learned Understanding that there are different ways to integrate bioinformatics into K-12 and undergraduate curriculum. Organizing regular interactions between pre-service and in-service teachers. Facilitating customization and adoption of the project materials. Developing the student interface to the Biology Workbench. Starting from paper-and-pencil exercises to web-based computing.

11 Outline –Background on remote scientific instrumentation –Review of remote scientific instrumentation projects –Some challenges of inquiry- based learning and teaching A Nashville second-grader examines the image of an ant on her computer screen (, April 18, 2001) Example 2: Applications of remote scientific instrumentation in education

12 What, if expensive, but important scientific instruments such as Hubble Telescope, electron microscopes, or even remote sensing satellites were on the network, and students could queue up requests for their use? This is not a farfetched scenario. (Soloway, 1994, p. 16) Using a web browser, students, teachers, and teacher educators at any location and at any time have the potential to access the latest scientific instruments without having to travel to a remote site or invest in the hardware themselves. Thus, the web becomes a world wide laboratory. Background

13 Remote scientific instrumentation is becoming part of the daily practice in science. Students, teachers, and teacher educators may need to learn about this technology for doing science, and that it is likely to be more commonplace and less costly in future (e.g., , which is now part of everyday activity in many schools). Mars Pathfinders land rover, Sojourner (, July 31, 1997) Why remote scientific instrumentation?

14 Stardial ( Problem: Provide real-time images of the night sky to students to access and study. Solution: Stardial, an autonomous astronomical camera, to provide students with authentic data complete with irregularities and surprises. Stardial data can be used for many purposes, such as discovering comets and asteroids. Asteroid (3) Juno identified by a student (, September 1996)

15 Chickscope ( Problem: Demonstrate remote access to the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) instrument for research and education. Solution: Chickscope allowed students and teachers in ten classrooms from kindergarten to high school, including an after-school science club and a home school, to study 21- day chicken embryo development using a remotely-controlled MRI instrument. –Students and teachers (pre- and in-service) learned much about how to collect and analyze data, how to ask questions, and how to communicate their findings with others. Seventh-grade students learning about acquiring MR images from their classroom

16 Illinois Chickscope ( Problem: How to scale a (successful) project? Solution: Illinois Chickscope (ILCS), a professional development program for teachers interested in integrating Chickscope into their curriculum. –ILCS built a community of teacherspre- and in-service; linked that community with scientists in a variety of disciplines; promoted an integrated understanding in science and mathematics; and experienced new ways of using the Internet. A pre-service teacher demonstrating egg candling to a student

17 Bugscope ( Problem: How to scale and sustain a remote scientific instrumentation project? Solution: Bugscope, an outreach project that allows students, teachers, and teacher educators to study insects and other arthropods through remote access and control of an environmental scanning electron microscope from classrooms nationwide. –No cost for classrooms to participate –Instrument resources: 2-4 hours/week –Frequency: once per week (over 75 classroom sessions from over 25 US states) Inquiry-in-Action

18 Image ObserverScope Controller Remote access and control software

19 Middle school classroom scenario A 7 th and 8 th grade classroom in a public school in an urban community (Texas City, TX) Proposal: We are researching the effects of ground level ozone in our area. My students have noticed a decrease in Monarch Butterflies and we feel that it may be as a result of the photochemical smog. I would like to raise the butterflies and go through the metamorphosis with them and with the plant they need to survive. Comments: [The] images sparked many conversations over the parts of the butterfly and how they did not know the butterfly looked like this. We were especially surprised to see pollen on our butterfly. Bacteria on the Monarch Butterfly leg, 10240x

20 A secondary and elementary science methods course at a university (Milwaukee, WI) Proposal: I am interested in modeling the use of technology to these future educators. … I also feel that having some control over the process of inquiry and discovery when using the Internet is extremely valuable for young students to construct their own knowledge. Comments: Students took turns viewing another spider I had here under a regular magnifying lens as well as a dissecting microscope to compare their conceptions of what they saw under ESEM. Dirt and other foreign material on the spiders leg, 640x Teacher education classroom scenario

21 Students and teachers have the opportunity to mail in specimens of insects and other arthropods, and then study the high magnifications images of these specimens on the microscope. –Like scientists, they have to propose a project to request the use of an expensive scientific instrument. –Like scientists, they are responsible for planning an experiment and then making efficient and good use of the time that they are allocated on the instrument to carry out their own investigations. –Like scientists, they have an infrastructure of people and technology to assist them. Bugscope motivates an interest in the scientific research enterprise among students and teachers. Bugscope and education outreach

22 Recent reports concur that inquiry-based projects successfully facilitate learning (e.g., National Research Council, 2000). However getting teachers interested and familiar with inquiry and providing support for them, is challenging. For instance, –How do we get students to engage in inquiry? –How do we ensure that all students are involved in inquiry activities? –How do teachers link to other teachers and student teachers to facilitate inquiry learning and teaching? –What are roles for scientists in supporting inquiry in classrooms? –How can teachers study their own inquiry practice and share what they learn with others? Some challenges of inquiry-based learning and teaching

23 Some suggestions for creating a sustainable and scalable NVO infrastructure for outreach and education: –Support for creating and sustaining a community of inquiry focusing on NVO –Support for customization and adoption of NVO materials –Opportunity for professional development workshops for K-12 teachers (pre-service and in-service) and college faculty and their undergraduate and graduate students –Opportunities for astronomers to actively collaborate with students and teachers (e.g., Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program, Summary

24 Thank you for your time. Please contact me for questions or comments: Umesh Thakkar Contact information

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