Research Based Science Curriculum for 4th Grade

Research Design – In education today, evidence of effectiveness is really important in all the grades. Here’s some thoughts on driving key elementary science vocabulary

Science4Us, in collaboration with Florida Atlantic University (FAU), will conduct research regarding the overall usability and instructional design of the curriculum. The research team will focus on how teachers implement an online curriculum as well as the effectiveness of two distinct Explain models on student achievement. The rationale for selecting physics as the content for initial research is that lower elementary teachers, in particular, experience difficulty in teaching physical science concepts like force and motion (Ginns & Watters, 1995; Kruger, Palacio, & Summers, 1990). Initial research of the Explain phase delivery method will be performed with the FAU research team in 27 K-2nd classrooms with 450 students, using the S4U Force and Motion Unit. The Explain phase for one Force and Motion module will be modified to include either Option A, a narrative explanation, or Option B, an interactive explanation. Option A offers a narrative explanation of science concepts via animations or shows science discussions among onscreen characters. Option B includes an interactive opportunity for children to “Show what you know!” as learners watch and listen to the explanation.

The results of the initial research regarding the Explain delivery method will be analyzed and provided to S4U’s development and design team. The team will refine the Force and Motion Unit incorporating the feedback and suggested enhancements from teachers and students. Specifically, the Explain delivery method identified as being more effective will be applied to all five modules of the Force and Motion Unit. Following design changes, a second round of testing will begin with 72 classroom teachers and 1,200 students. This formal test, review, and redesign process will allow S4U to meet the challenge of providing an effective, digital, core science curriculum.

SBIR funding will provide an opportunity for Time4Learning, a small commercial business, to explore in collaboration with professional science education researchers and teachers in a formal structure how to best develop the 5E Model to teach lower elementary students about Force and Motion using internet based, online, interactive, digital science education. The grant would allow for a true research contribution adding credibility to enable S4U to achieve fast, cost-effective user adoption.

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