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. Deirdre Butler, St. Patrick’s College, Dublin Ireland

July 3 – 4, 2006
St. Patrick’s College
Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland

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 two-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 fredm@cs.uml.edu and Deirdre Butler deirdre.butler@spd.dcu.ie 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
  • Data Collection with the Handy Cricket, Anita Greenwood and Fred Martin. 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

Workshop Agenda
The workshop will meet for two full days on Monday July 3 and Tuesday July 4. 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 two 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.

International Invitational Symposium
During the same week as the Cricket Science workshop, there is a significant international conference on educational policy that has been organized at St. Patrick's College. This is a wholly separate event from the Cricket Science workshop, but participants who have traveled to Dublin may be quite interested in attending!

The symposium will be held from July 5 – 8, 2006. For more information, please see http://www.spd.dcu.ie/iis/.

Attendee List
Ciaran O'Connell, ciaranoconnell at eircom.net
Mags Amond, amond at o2.ie
Brenda Earle, brendaearle at gmail.com
John Fleming, jpsfleming at eircom.net
Cliff Brown, cbrown at thedigitalhub.com
Cathal O'Connell, coconnell at ncte.ie
Fred Martin, fredm at cs.uml.edu
Michael John Gorman, michaeljohn.gorman at forfas.ie
Anna Walshe
Jennifer Kelly, jekelly at tcd.ie
Vicky McDermott, bitemail at eircom.net
Milena Reichel, mreichel at tzi.de