National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST)

April 14-17 | Baltimore MD

Building systems from Scratch: An exploratory study of student learning about climate change

Presenters: Gillian Puttick (TERC) and Eli Tucker-Raymond (TERC)

10:15am - 11:45am | Gibson


Abstract: Computing has been a foundational tool in the development of scientific understanding of current and future impacts of climate change, the most important socio-scientific issue facing society today. Science practices, such as modeling and abstraction, are critical to understanding complex systems dynamics integral to understanding climate science. Given the demonstrated affordances of game design in supporting computational thinking, many aspects of which are akin to systems thinking, we implemented a free four-day intensive game design and climate change workshop for middle school girls that focused on game design to teach about climate change. In the workshop, five girls used the object-oriented programming environment, Scratch, to create games based on a systems perspective on climate change. We present findings related to the experience of Lori, a girl with no prior experience with Scratch. Findings are organized into three broader categories: a) analogies to science content in the games, b) game design experience, and c) evidence of systems thinking, including socio-ecological connections.

Symposium - Pathways towards Engaging and Equitable Sense-Making for Elementary Teachers and their Students


1:15pm - 2:45pm | Maryland Salon E 


Presenters: Christina V. Schwarz, Michigan State University
; Angela Calabrese Barton, Michigan State University
; Carrie T. Tzou, University of Washington-Bothell
; Carolyn Colley, University of Washington-Seattle; 
Beth Warren, TERC; 
Ann S. Rosebery, TERC
; Elizabeth X. De Los Santos, Michigan State University;
 Christa Haverly, Michigan State University
; Christina V. Schwarz, Michigan State University

Abstract: Sense-making lies at the heart of scientific ways of learning about the world – central to how learners develop and revise powerful science ideas and critical for equity because full participation, epistemic agency, and meaningful contribution to knowledge-building are hallmarks of equitable learning communities. Nonetheless, fostering engaging and equitable sense-making is challenging for teachers. Several research groups and programs have been systematically working on determining how to better help elementary teachers open-up spaces and foster engaging and equitable sense-making opportunities in classrooms. Research groups in this symposium drawn on their work with elementary teachers across the spectrum of experience to share their findings. In particular, the symposium will a) examine aims, goals and definitions of sense-making with an equity focus, b) share research findings in the form of cases highlighting what equitable and engaging sense-making looks like in classrooms at the elementary level, c) illustrate promising instructional practices, tools and approaches that may support engaging and equitable sense-making while considering challenges that teachers and students face, and (e) propose promising future directions for research in working towards engaging and equitable sense-making for all.