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