$2.3 Million Grant is Expected to Make Ripples in Science Education

Dr. Janelle Baily Dr. Doug Lombardi

Dr. Doug Lombardi (PI) along with Dr. Janelle Bailey (Co-PI) have been awarded $2.3 million for their project, Engaging Students in the Scientific Practices: Evaluating Evidence and Explanation in Secondary Earth Science from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project’s objective that will positively impact the science education field at larger scale.
 
Drs. Lombardi and Bailey are aiming to change the curricula of high school science courses as well as create a stronger scientific thought process among high school students. Instead of students simply memorizing and accepting polarizing facts, the modules will focus on the context surrounding such facts. This will encourage high school students to independently use critical thinking skills to better understand the world around them. The project will build a deeper understanding of phenomenal events such as extreme weather, formation of the universe, deep geological disposal of nuclear waste, and availability of freshwater resources.
 
Dr. Doug Lombardi describes the importance of students developing critical thinking skills within the science field, "The MEL activities move students beyond mere opinions by helping them weigh the merits of scientific explanations compared to plausible, but non-scientific, alternatives. Students do this through scientific and critical thinking. In this project, we hope to extend students' scientific thinking beyond the classroom walls by knowing both what scientists know and how scientists know it."
 
Drs. Lombardi and Bailey will work with teachers and faculty from Girard College in Philadelphia, the University of North Georgia, Forsyth County School District in Georgia, School District of the Chathams in New Jersey, and TERC (a nonprofit education research and development organization). The diverse collaboration between the teachers and Drs. Lombardi and Bailey are a critical component to this project. The teachers will evaluate how the modules are performing among their students on a regular basis.
 
“We are very excited to have this opportunity to expand our work to more teachers through our partnerships in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Georgia. Working with teachers to develop the MEL activities helps ensure that they are relevant and useful in real classrooms,” said Dr. Janelle Bailey.
 
By the end of the fourth year, the $2.3 million grant promises to yield important findings that Drs. Lombardi and Bailey hope will allow the modules to be incorporated into classrooms nationwide.
 
- Breanna Pegula