Shaping of Authentic Practices by Engaging in Modeling of A Topic with Teachers to Explore Research in Science (SHAPE MATTERS)

  • Project Description

    Considerable advancements have been made in the field of molecular biology by combining the knowledge base
    of multiple scientific disciplines in order to understand the structure, function, and relationships between nucleic
    acids and proteins. The overall goal of the SHaping of Authentic Practices by Engaging in Modeling of A Topic
    with Teachers to Explore Research in Science (SHAPE MATTERS) project is to engage high school biology and
    chemistry teachers in a rigorous professional development experience that will enable them to incorporate some
    of these advancements into their curriculum. From this, secondary science curriculum will be developed that is
    centered on authentic scientific practices, and the secondary students will showcase their learning with 3-D
    models and molecular stories in a community-based symposium event.

  • Abstract

    In order to teach the future scientists of tomorrow, investment into supporting their teachers today needs to be
    made. The complexity of scientific ideas and access to data has exploded in the first decades of the 21st century.
    These include advancements in molecular biology that have enabled researchers to better understand the
    structure-function relationship of nucleic acids and proteins as it relates to human health. These contemporary
    understandings in molecular biology are often unknown to secondary-level teachers and can be difficult for
    secondary-level students to learn as it requires them to use and integrate multiple levels of biological
    organization. Advances in computational power and access provide a unique opportunity to make molecular
    biology accessible to all students by bringing it to life in the classroom. Teachers need supportive, ongoing
    professional development to successfully integrate these investigative practices into their classrooms.
    The overall goal of the SHaping of Authentic Practices by Engaging in Modeling of A Topic with Teachers
    to Explore Research in Science (SHAPE MATTERS) project is to engage high school science teachers in a
    rigorous professional development experience that will impact 100s of students per participating teacher. Specific
    Aim 1: The SHAPE MATTERS team will develop and implement a professional development experience for
    teachers to increase their knowledge of the scientific practices involved in molecular biology research. Teachers
    will examine a series of molecular stories of current research projects and then work directly with a research
    mentor to explore a specific phenomenon and associated investigative strategies in molecular biology. They will
    ultimately develop a 3-dimensional model of the relevant molecule and present a new molecular story. Specific
    Aim 2: Biomolecular science curriculum will be created within Central Pennsylvania secondary schools centered
    on authentic scientific practices through the SHAPE MATTERS program. With researcher and science education
    faculty support, educators will develop and implement classroom research projects (CLRPs) with high school
    students. From this, teachers will generate an Impact Report documenting the impact of the curriculum on their
    instructional practice as well as student learning and interest. The curriculum will be disseminated broadly across
    Pennsylvania. Specific Aim 3: SHAPE MATTERS will establish SMART teams in Pennsylvania to engage
    teachers and students in modeling practices through authentic research projects connected to the basic biology
    and chemistry concepts. Participating high school students across Pennsylvania will showcase their molecular
    stories in the community-based symposium event. Magnolia Consulting will lead the program evaluation using a
    treatment-group only, mixed-methods approach. The evaluation will use data collected through the review of
    program artifacts and records, interviews, online surveys, and observations to examine the development,
    implementation, and perceptions of the SHAPE MATTERS summer workshop, CLRPS, and SMART teams.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Secondary science curriculum from the SHAPE MATTERS project will be disseminated through the program website. In addition, outcomes of the program will be shared at professional conferences.

Project Audience

Secondary teachers and students are the primary audience of the SHAPE MATTERS project.

Subjects Addressed

Biology and chemistry