Embedded Computing & Authentic Inquiry in School Science:
A Hands-On Workshop and Research Forum

led by:
Dr. Fred Martin, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA
Dr. Prof. Heidi Schelhowe, University of Bremen, Germany
Henning Brandt, Technologie-Zentrum Informatik, Bremen, Germany
Douglas Prime, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA

October 7 – 9, 2006, 10 am to 5 pm
University of Bremen
Center for Interaction with Digital Media (ZIM)

Recent research into the “nature of science” describes the work of practicing scientists as negotiational, creative, and culturally embedded. For decades, science educators have argued that science should be learned with inquiry-based approaches. Rather than being told facts, students should learn scientific reasoning by designing, carrying out, and interpreting experiments.

Yet most school science still consists of content-laden curricula where students are told “the way things are” — in other words, they learn scientific “facts.” Hands-on work is often limited to “confirmation experiments” where students recreate laboratory procedures to obtain known outcomes.

The presenters will conduct a three-day workshop and forum intended for science educators, advisors, and researchers who wish to develop modern approaches to teaching and learning school science. The course will include both experiential and discussion-based learning for participants.

We will provide practical experience where you will develop your own mini-research project using microprocessor-based tools for data collection (the “Cricket”). These tools are intended to be used teachers and students of advanced primary and secondary classrooms.

Through readings and discussion, we will situate this hands-on experience in a context of learning about science and how to think like a scientist. Group discussions will develop practical ideas about how to bring these materials into ordinary science classrooms, and develop policy-level support for our approach.

To Participate
Please contact Fred Martin, Heidi Schelhowe, and Henning Brandt if you are interested in participating.

Reading List

  • Developing Teachers’ Understanding of the Nature of Scientific Inquiry with Embedded Data Collection Materials, Fred Martin and Anita Greenwood, 2006. pdf
  • The State of Science Education: Subject Matter Without Context, Norman G. Lederman, 1998. html
  • Beyond Black Boxes: Bringing Transparency and Aesthetics Back to Scientific Investigation, Resnick et al., 2000. pdf
  • Distinguishing Between Understanding and Belief, Clark A. Chinn and Ala Samarapungavan, 2001. pdf
  • Understanding Students’ Practical Epistemologies and Their Influence on Learning Through Inquiry, William A. Sandoval, 2005. pdf
  • Sustaining Local Identity, Control, and Ownership While Integrating Technology into School Learning, Deirdre Butler, Carol Strohecker, and Fred Martin, 2006. pdf
  • Eyes on the Prize: Considering How Design Research Can Lead to Sustainable Innovation, Vandana Thadani et al., 2006. pdf
  • Design-Based Research Methods for Studying Learning in Context: Introduction, William A. Sandoval and Philip Bell, 2004. pdf
  • Design Experiments: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in Creating Complex Interventions in Classroom Settings," Ann Brown, 1992. pdf''
  • Design and Inquiry: Bases for an Accommodation between Science and Technology Education in the Curriculum?, Theodore Lewis, 2006. pdf
  • Data Collection with the Handy Cricket, Anita Greenwood and Fred Martin. pdf

Workshop Agenda
The workshop will meet Saturday October 7 through Monday October 9, from 10 am to 5 pm on each day. Participants will design and carry out several data-collection and analysis experiments, including the “chocolate walk” (see Beyond Black Boxes paper noted above), an overnight refrigerator experiment, a solar heating/cooling experiment, and a personal body metabolism experiment. Plus, participants will develop ideas and carry out experiments of their own.

During the course of the three days, numerous break-out sessions will discuss ideas introduced in the readings, including discussions of inquiry, curriculum vs. project-based content, design-based research in the classroom, technological resources, student/teachers/researcher notions of the nature of science, and how this all applies to classroom learning.

Attendee List

Fred Martin
Douglas Prime
Milena Reichel
Torsten Grüter
Henning Brandt
Kristian Gohlke
Björn Stopler
Bernd Klein
Stefan Ihmig
Michael Alberts
Axel Ahrens
Milda Gusaite
Holger Kuehnle
Carmen Schmeyer
Nicole Buttlemann
Johannes Pawelzik
Dieter Schmidt
Mark Olsichläger
Sarah Herrmann
Erna Domsgen
Daniela Schwerk
Lea Buechley

Project Listing

Over the course of the workshop, we did these projects:

  • Chocolate walk (all of on Saturday)
  • Refrigerator (and freezer) measurements
  • Sunrise
  • Traffic outside the apt (using light sensor to see automobile headlights)
  • Period of gait when walking and running (using light sensor taped to the shoe) (including the family dog)
  • Reaction time game (light and sound)
  • Room entering and exiting (two light sensors) including keeping track of when


Course Evaluation