Unit Code: EEC1107
Location: Footscray Park/ Werribee Campus
Prepared by: Dr Neil Fernandes
Victoria University CRICOS Provider No. 00124K (Melbourne), 02475D (Sydney), RTO Code 3113
EEC1107: Educating for STEM
Assignment 1 – Developing a STEM Model
Overview: This assignment is about recognising the crucial role of models in developing scientific understanding. Models can help students engage with abstract scientific concepts by encouraging students to make connections between the model and the concept being explored. Teachers often use models to help students make sense of their observations, findings and abstract ideas through the visualisation of:
• Objects that are too big. For example, the solar system, an ecosystem.
• Objects that are too small or not seen easily. For example, a cell, the lungs.
• Processes that cannot easily be seen directly. For example, digestion, erosion.
• Abstract ideas. For example, particulate nature of matter, energy transfer.
Assignment Description: In this assignment, you will assessed for your ability to develop a an interactive STEM model will be used in class to deliver an engaging and interactive primary science lesson in conjunction with the Victorian primary science curriculum and a “Big Idea” in science (STEM) education. You will also be assessed for your ability to link content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) to develop a unique STEM lesson. Please pay close attention to specific criteria outlined in the assignment template while developing the lesson plan that accompanies your scientific model.
Recommended sources for finding learning activities aligned to the Curriculum are Scootle (https://www.scootle.edu.au/) or FUSE (https://fuse.education.vic.gov.au/). Please use your VU email ID to create a free Scootle account.
Due Date: Please upload your completed assignment template into your assignment Dropbox by Sunday 11:59 PM - End of Week 1.
Please Note: This is NOT a group assignment – please submit your own work.
Percentage of Total Mark: 15 points (15%).
EEC1107 - Educating for STEM
Template for STEM Model (Page 1 of 2)
Describe the key scientific concept associated with
The key scientific concepts here are understanding the diversity of planets (rocky planets, gas giants and ice giants) in our solar system and the uniqueness of earth’s place in our solar system.
Briefly describe how your model SPECIFICALLY linked to the Victorian Primary Science Curriculum / Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and a Big Idea in Science.
Victorian Curriculum Descriptor: VCSSU078.
Levels 5 & 6: “The earth is part of a system of planets orbiting around a star (the Sun)”.
Elaborations: “Identifying the planets of the solar system and comparing how long they take to orbit the Sun. Modelling the relative size of and distance between Earth, other planets in the solar system and the sun” (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2020).
Big Idea of Science Descriptor: Our solar system is a very small part of one of billions of galaxies in the Universe. The Earth is one of eight (so far known) planets in our solar system (Association for Science Education 2020).
Insert a design sketch of your model.
Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Draw_Solar_System.png
Describe the interactive and inquiry based learning activity you have designed for your model.
I will organise students into groups of five and each group of students will be encouraged to arrange the planets of solar system in an order that makes sense to them. Students explain the reasons underlying their arrangement to their peers in other groups after completing this activity. I would also allocate tasks to individuals in a group to keep students focused. I would also use cue cards with hints on why the planets are arranged in a particular pattern to support students as they work within their group. For example, the rocky planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) are closest to the sun, followed by the gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn) and the ice giants (Uranus and Neptune). I would also get students in different groups to debate their ideas for ordering the planets to encourage friendly competition between different groups. This argumentative approach promotes practices, such as “assessing alternatives, weighing evidence, interpreting texts, and evaluating the potential viability of scientific claims” (Driver et al. 1998, p.228). Students will then compare how long different planets take to orbit the Sun and will use Play-Doh to model the relative size of and distance between Earth, other planets in the solar system and the sun (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2020). Using the Primary Connections resources “Solar System information organiser” and “Scaled Planets” information sheet will help students complete these learning activities more efficiently. Using Primary Connections resources links well to the AITSL Standard - understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers. Primary Connections, the Australian Academy of Science's flagship primary school science program aims to enhance primary school teachers' confidence and competence for teaching science through and an innovative approach to teaching and learning.
Template for STEM Model (Page 2 of 2)
Describe three SPECIFIC advantages of using your model in a science lesson.
1. Students can learn about the diversity of planets (rocky planets, gas giants and ice giants) in our solar system.
2. Students can learn about the unique features of each planet. E.g.: The rings around Saturn or the persistent great red spot on Jupiter.
3. Students can discuss ideas the uniqueness of earths place in our solar system. For example, the abundance of liquid water on earth and a temperature that is just right for different lifeforms to exist and flourish. This links to VCSSU078 - learning about the earth as part of a system of planets orbiting around a star (the Sun) and identifying the planets of the solar system (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2020).
Provide SPECIFIC examples of key scientific questions you could ask students as they interact with your model.
1. Describe the hottest planets in our solar system? Why are they so hot?
2. What makes earth an example of a “Goldilocks” planet?
(Science on a Sphere 2020)
3. Could humans live on Mars? Explain your response!
4. How could astronauts travel to Mars?
5. Why are the planets Uranus and Neptune known as ice giants?
Asking students specific diagnostic questions to evaluate the depth of their conceptual understanding helps teachers plan for teaching relates to AITSL standard 2.1 on knowing the content and how to teach it. (AITSL 2020).
How does your model SPECIFICALLY align with 5E Learning Model?
Engage – Watch a Video of the Solar System. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF14sGoymW0 Explore – Groups discuss ideas for arranging the planets of our solar system in a logical sequence.
Explain – Groups explain their sequence for arranging planets in a particular order.
Elaborate – Going on an excursion to the Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks to participate in the Solar System Odyssey program. Follow up with a debate on the challenges of getting to Mars in a rocket-ship and setting up a Mars colony (NASA/JPL Edu 2020).
Evaluate – Kahoot Quiz of the key features of each planet in our Solar System.
Going on an excursion to the Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks to participate in the Solar System Odyssey program links to AITSL standard 7.4 - understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice. Solar System Odyssey is an adventure set in the future, when humans have depleted the natural resources on earth. The astronaut hero, Jack Larson, goes on a mission to discover a new home that humans can colonise (Museums Victoria 2020).
Describe three SPECIFIC limitations of using your model in a science lesson.
1. Many students will find it difficult to grasp the concept of the relative size of each planet.
2. This model does not feature additional features of our solar system. For example: moons revolving around planets, comets and the asteroid belt.
3. Mathematical aspects such as the time it takes for each planet to orbit around the sun, the distance between planets and the length of day on each planet are not explored. This links to VCSSU078 - learning about comparing how long different planets take to orbit the Sun and modelling the relative size of and distance between Earth, other planets in the solar system and the sun” (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2020).
Provide SPECIFIC examples of feedback you could use to guide high, medium and low performing students as they interact with your model.
Performing Below Level: Encourage student to pair up with supportive student to discuss the unique features of each planet. Performing at Level: Encourage student to take up different role in group activity after a period of time. For example: Note down ideas that explain the uniqueness of earths place in our solar system. Performing Above Level: Encourage student to watch Professor Brian Cox’s documentary on the “Wonders of the Solar System” (BBC Two 2020). Providing students with encouraging feedback that is specific to their level of performance improves their chances of success and supports their wellbeing in relation to AITSL standard 4.4 (AITSL 2020).
How does your model align with the principles of STEM education?
Science – Earth’s place in our solar system and the unique features of each planet.
Technology – Can be linked to building and testing a model of a balloon rocket ship (NASA/JPL Edu 2020). Student’s discusses what could be done to improve the design of their rocket so that it travels further.
Engineering – Can be linked to the STEM challenge of sending a space shuttle to rover to explore Mars (NASA/JPL Edu 2020). Students discuss engineering constraints that places limits on a space mission depending on the hardware students select to accomplish the mission.
Math – Relative size of the planets, the time it takes for each planet to revolve around the sun and the length of day on each planet (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2020).
Using the NASA/JPL resources “Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet Activity” and the “Simple Rocket Science Activity” will help students achieve their learning activities more effectively. Using NASA/JPL STEM resources links well to the AITSL Standard - understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers. NASA/JPL STEM resources helps teachers bring the wonders of space to their students.
Hint#: Please provide Harvard formatted references from recommended sources. Use this resource: https://libraryguides.vu.edu.au/harvard
Association for Science Education 2020, Principles and Big Ideas of Science Education, viewed 29th January 2020, https://www.ase.org.uk/bigideas/ .
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) 2020, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, viewed 29th March 2020, https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards/ .
BBC Two 2020, Wonders of the Solar System, Original Series, viewed 29th January 2020, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qyxfb/ .
Driver, R, Newton, P, & Osborne, J 2000, ‘Establishing the norms of scientific argumentation in classrooms’, Science Education, 84(3), 287-312.
Science on a Sphere, 2020 Earth, our Goldilocks Planet Dataset, viewed 29th January 2020, https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/earth-our-goldilocks-planet/ .
Museums Victoria 2020, Scienceworks : Solar System Odyssey, viewed 29th January 2020, https://museumsvictoria.com.au/scienceworks/learning/school-programs-and-resources/solar-system-odyssey/ .
NASA/JPL Edu 2020, Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet Activity, viewed 29th January 2020, https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/marsbound/ .
NASA/JPL Edu 2020, Simple Rocket Science Continued Activity, viewed 29th January 2020, https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/simple-rocket-science-continued/ .
Primary Connections 2020, Earth's Place in Space, viewed 29th January 2020, https://primaryconnections.org.au/curriculum-resource/earths-place-space/ .
Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) 2020, Content Description VCSSU078 - Victorian Curriculum, viewed 29th January 2020, https://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Curriculum/ContentDescription/VCSSU078/ .
Wikimedia Commons 2020, Simplified rendition of the Solar System as it was known at the time of Copernicus, viewed 29th January 2020, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Draw_Solar_System.png/ .
Appendix 1: Recommended Primary Connections teaching resources on Scootle. Choose one as your main source.
Suggestion for Model
Growing well This comprehensive teacher resource focuses on the needs of living things, particularly the water, sunlight and nutrient needs of plants. Students observe and describe how conditions of the environment affect the features, behaviour and survival of plants and animals.
Construction of a suitable habitat for a plant/animal.
On the move Explores push and pull forces used to move objects, in ways such as sliding, bouncing and spinning, through a series of collaborative inquiry-based learning activities.
Construction of a balloon racer.
Bend it! Stretch it! This comprehensive teacher resource focuses on how everyday materials can be physically changed in a variety of ways including bending and stretching. Students explore ways that every day materials and objects can be changed, they experiment with bending and folding, stretching and scrunching, wetting and drying out.
Exploring the properties of different materials.
Dinosaurs and more This comprehensive teacher resource focuses on the relationships between form and function for living things, using the context of prehistoric animals. Students explore the skeletons and external features of prehistoric and modern animals and relate this to where they lived, they then examine teeth and identify how this is linked to what the animals eat.
Excavate and examine a buried dinosaur fossil.
This comprehensive teacher resource explores how water is used, where water comes from and how to use it responsibly.
Water, a precious natural resource, is investigated using a series of collaborative inquiry-based learning activities.
Construction of a simple water filter.
Watch it grow This is an extensive teaching unit focused on learning, through a collaborative, inquiry-based approach, about the growth, development, reproduction and death of different organisms.
Construction of a life stage model for a butterfly/frog.
Feathers, fur or leaves? This is an extensive teaching unit focused on learning, through a collaborative, inquiry-based approach, how to distinguish living and non-living things as well as how to classify living things.
Distinguish between different kinds of living organisms.
Heating up This comprehensive teacher resource explores different types of heat sources and how heat moves from one object to another, through a series of collaborative inquiry-based learning activities. Primary heat sources (that transform different energy sources to heat) and secondary sources (that transfer heat they have accumulated) are investigated and heat exchange between materials until they reach the same temperature is covered.
Explore heat conductivity of different materials.
Link to Primary Connections Scootle resources: https://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/search?q=primary+connections Link to FUSE resources: https://fuse.education.vic.gov.au/
Create a free Scootle account: https://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/preregister.action
Appendix 1 (contd.): Recommended Primary Connections teaching resources on Scootle. Choose one as your main source.
Suggestion for Model
Material world This comprehensive teacher resource explores a range of physical properties of natural and processed materials, including decomposition, absorbency and tensile strength, through a series of collaborative inquiry-based learning activities. Links are made between properties of materials and their use, and an investigation of the thermal insulation capacity of materials is planned and conducted.
Explore properties and used of different materials.
Beneath our feet This is an extensive teaching unit focused on learning, through a collaborative inquiry-based approach, how natural processes change Earth's surface.
Explore soil/erosion/rock formation.
Desert survivors This comprehensive teacher resource explores how the structural features and adaptations of desert plants and animals help them to survive in their own natural environment through a series of collaborative inquiry-based learning activities.
Explore adaptations in desert animals/plants.
Earth's place in space This is an extensive teaching unit focused on learning, through a collaborative, inquiry-based approach, how celestial motion affects days, months and years, and how our solar system works.
Explore uniqueness of earth in our Solar System.
Creators and destroyers This comprehensive teacher resource focuses on volcanic activity on the Earth’s surface. Students explore how volcanoes are formed, how the viscosity of lava effects the shape of volcanoes, the benefits and risks of living near a volcano and how volcanic activity is related to the structure of the Earth.
Explore formation of volcanoes.
Earthquake explorers This is an extensive teaching unit focused on learning, through a collaborative, inquiry-based approach, about the causes of earthquakes, how they are measured and the damage they can cause.
Explore causes of earthquakes.
Link to FUSE resources: https://fuse.education.vic.gov.au/ Link to Scootle resources: https://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/search?q=primary+connections
Create a free Scootle account: https://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/preregister.action
Appendix 2: VU Learning Outcome versus AITSL Teacher Professional Standard. You need to address as many of these as possible.
VU Learning Outcome AITSL Teacher Professional Standard
1. Analyse and articulate the role of STEM in everyday life. 7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community. 7.4 Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.
2. Demonstrate STEM knowledge at an appropriate level for application in educational settings.
3. Identify a range of effective pedagogies for STEM instruction
2. Know the content and how to teach it.
2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.
4. Plan and carry out simple scientific investigation.
4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments. 4.4 Describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements.
5. Demonstrate a familiarity with academic conventions of documentation and referencing. 6. Engage in professional learning. 6.4 Understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers.
Link to the AITLS standards: https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards