iDigFossils: Engaging K-12 Students in Integrated STEM via 3D Digitization, Printing and Exploration of Fossils
This project will design and test a model for student engagement using paleontology as the disciplinary focus. Paleontology, or the scientific study of fossils, is a broad, interdisciplinary field that spans biology and geology. Current paleontological research harnesses the resources provided by advanced technologies and modern statistics. The project will design, implement, and study a paleontology-focused and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned curriculum that infuses cutting-edge 3-D scanning and printing technologies in grades 6-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Authentic paleontological data, model-based reasoning, and socio-scientific problem solving will provide rich experiences integrating STEM disciplines in grades 6-12 and contribute to cultivating students' interest and identity in STEM.
The project will design and implement a 3D technology-enhanced curriculum that infuses paleontology in K-12 as a truly integrated STEM science. The curriculum will enable students to use 3-D printing, computational modeling and other new technologies that will engage them in developing 21st century skills and introduce them to STEM careers. The project will introduce optimized research software for fossil interpretation and create apps for computational modeling using an existing, open source statistics environment. The project will research effective conditions for scaffolding integrated STEM learning and the impact of the project on cultivating K-12 student interest and identity in STEM and related careers. Project research and resources will be widely disseminated to researchers, students, teachers, and informal educators. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program that supports projects that build understandings of best practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to engaging students in learning and developing interest in STEM, information and communications technology (ICT), computer science, and related STEM content and careers.