by Kathy Browne
Jessica Monaghan (New Brunswick Middle School) and Missy Holzer (Chatham High School) presented their SENCER-ISE work at the NJ Science Teachers Convention on October 24th to a standing room only audience with their presentation entitled “Phenomena Based Teaching & Learning Through Engineering Design & Civic Engagement”.
Jess and Missy worked with Jeff Hoagland (Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association), Sandra Levigne (Great Swamp Watershed Association), and Kathy Browne (Rider University; co-Director SENCER MidAtlantic Center for Innovation) to design lesson sequences focused on a civic issue using aspects of the NGSS engineering design process to help their students learn and apply science concepts. This work was funded by a sub-award provided by SENCER-ISE through the project, Partnership Champions: SENCER ISE and Professional Development Through Mentoring to Enhance Learning Environments (MG-10-15-0071-15A). Partnership Champions is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
At the presentation, Kathy Browne provided an overview of the synergies between the SENCER ideals and the conceptual shifts expected to implement the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards. The project teachers then presented summaries of how their work with watershed association partners guided students’ learning and then showed examples of student work.
Missy created a solutions project for her A.P. Environmental Science students entitled “Swamped! Mitigating Local Runoff to Protect Our Waters” and Jess created a design project for her middle school students focused on “Avoidable Waste in our School”. In each project, students visited field sites to collect data and learn important concepts, then investigated specific problems they were most interested in. Students presented findings to classmates and local stakeholders (e.g. district and watershed association officials, township environmental commissioners). In New Brunswick Middle School, the principal reported that some of the students’ suggestions would be worthwhile implementing and will be pursued!
The project was guided by veteran grant recipient and eMentor Michelle Kortenaar, Director of Programs at the Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY. Michelle provided regular “just in time” guidance and insight via videoconferencing tools as the project leaders, Jeff Hoagland and Kathy Browne, worked with partners to complete the work. Monica Devanas, co-Director of the SENCER MidAtlantic Center for Innovation, provided insight into assessment of such projects and conducted the final evaluation of the results. Project team members report that they plan to continue their work with their robustly developed partnerships.