Leslie Atkins Elliott
In the science classroom, curriculum often engages students in science experiments with predetermined materials and scaffolded instructions in order to obtain a designated outcome. However, science experiments like this focus on the product of experiment but not the process of designing an experiment. Implicit in these labs is that the goal of the science classroom is to learn specific scientific content instead of learning how to build theories and develop experiments in support of those. If, instead, we want science classes that support students in developing, vetting and refining theories, our research suggests that increased student agency around materials and design is critical. As students make design choices in their experiments, they enter into a conversation with materials and design and these inform and shape their developing models in richly scientific ways. Through the use of student examples we will show how students can use materials in novel and authentic ways that improve their design practice and solidify their scientific theories.
Moran, ShaKayla; Atkins Elliott, Leslie; Crowley, Stephen; and Hansen, Emily, "Building Theories by Building Things" (2021). 2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase. 17.