Why do muffins rise in the oven? Researcher wins NSF award for event-oriented science courses for primary school teachers

Image: NAU Assistant Professor Marty Canepe’s research contributes to the field’s understanding of how advanced elementary teachers will develop deep science knowledge.
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Credit: University of Northern Arizona

Many elementary school graduates graduate from undergraduate programs with limited knowledge and limited experience in teaching science in proven ways that are effective for elementary students.

In fact, a recent National Science and Mathematics Survey reported that 23 percent of primary school teachers were “well prepared” to develop a conceptual understanding of science with their students. As a result, elementary school students may not get the science education they need to prepare for the 21 challengesSt Century.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) was recently awarded Marty Cannipe, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Class at the University of North Arizona, $ 296,000 in support of the project,

This three-year project not only focuses on the scope of knowledge needed to teach elementary science, but also bridges this knowledge and skill gap by developing and evaluating science courses for primary school professionals.

The science courses use fact-based teaching methods that focus on events involving students in a variety of science practices to develop evidence-based explanations. For example, in order to explain why muffins rise in the oven, students need to understand the concept of material structure and behavior, chemical reactions and energy. Educational research has shown that the use of real-life events to teach science is more effective than the traditional model of learning based on real memory and facts.

“Unlike secondary science teachers, who typically work in a specific content area, primary school teachers are expected to be responsible for teaching all subjects, including science,” he said. In addition, elementary science at each grade level includes a mix of topics in life, Earth / Space, and Physical Science. Elementary teachers can change grades from one year to the next, giving them the responsibility of teaching a variety of science subjects. In addition to understanding effective models to teach science to elementary students, a well-prepared elementary teacher requires a broad understanding of science in all disciplines.

Cannipe research contributes to the field’s understanding of how advanced primary school teachers will develop deep scientific knowledge.

She works as an associate professor on the project Ron Gray NAU Center for Science and Education. The members of the advisory board are Christina Chris of the University of Illinois. Michigan State University Christina Schwartz; Melissa Braton of the University of Colorado and Christine Gunkel of the University of Arizona. A graduate student joins Canepen on the project. Stephanie Chase, A doctoral student in the NAU Curriculum and Education PhD program, joins Canepen on the project.

The science course materials prepared by the team will be made available publicly. “Teachers are free to accept and / or modify materials in a way that suits their context, and can adapt materials to be used by teachers for professional development settings,” Canipe said.

This project has the potential to have a major impact on science education for undergraduate elementary students and future elementary school students.

For his part, Kanipe said, “The results of this project have the potential to spread beyond the context of an elementary education program and improve the quality of primary education.” In the years to come, they will be able to build scientific understanding in their entire education.

A.D. Before joining NAU in 2016, Cannipe, a professor and senior student at the University of Arizona, taught third to eighth grade science in North Carolina for twelve years. At the NSF, she worked as an honorary educator in the Office of Polar Programs, working with Albert Einstein, providing resources for teachers and scientists to help bring scientific research to school, and to help polar scientists connect with K-12 classes. Her first interest was to become a science teacher for primary school teachers.

About the University of Northern Arizona

The University of Northern Arizona is a leading research institution offering special education opportunities in Arizona and beyond. NAU provides a student center experience for nearly 30,000 students in Flagstaff, state, and online through strong academic programs in a supportive, inclusive, and diverse environment. Dedicated, world-renowned faculty helps students achieve academic excellence, practice personal growth, have meaningful research opportunities, and are committed to personal and professional success.

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