Riverside Air Monitoring Project
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase student motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by developing and testing an innovative and locally-relevant air quality curriculum for high school students. Representatives of a public school district, a state university, a college of engineering, and a center for environmental research and technology will collaborate in designing, implementing, and examining the impacts of the curriculum on student understanding of air quality, health risks associated with reduced air quality, and pathways to careers in air quality monitoring and management. The project is located in an area where air quality is a significant environmental concern, and where there are opportunities for students to gain direct experiences with emerging technologies associated with air quality monitoring and mitigating environmental impacts. Over a two-year period, the project will implement 18 new air-quality lessons developed by teachers within existing high school science courses. The project will also engage participating teachers in related professional learning opportunities focusing on research and culturally responsive teaching during summers and through weekly meetings during the academic year. The project will be guided by an Advisory Board that includes representatives of local academic institutions, industry partners, and government agencies.
The aims of this project are to: (a) Enhance a high school science curriculum by incorporating newly developed lessons focusing on air-quality monitoring, (b) Evaluate the effectiveness of the new curriculum and associated teacher professional learning opportunities in promoting student understanding of the impacts of air quality on their everyday lives, (c) Identify intra-personal, inter-personal, and cultural influences on the effectiveness of the new air quality curriculum intervention, and (d) Raise awareness among students of possible career opportunities with environmental industries locally and globally. The 18 new lessons being developed by the project will be tested through a randomized control research design involving a minimum of 30 science teachers across five comprehensive high schools of a large metropolitan school district. Approximately 2,100 students in grades 10 and 11 will be engaged in the classrooms of the study, with 15 teachers and 1050 students involved in the treatment groups, and in the comparison groups. Teachers in the treatment groups will participate in a summer research experience where they learn to use the technologies and procedures associated with air quality monitoring, and during the subsequent school year they will develop lessons on air quality monitoring that will be incorporated within their standard classes. Teachers in the comparison group will conduct business as usual and implement the regular science curriculum. The guiding questions for research are: (a) How can experiences with emerging technologies effectively enable diverse populations of students to gain familiarity with relevant competencies and what factors might influence learning experiences? (b) What factors and key experiences may effectively promote awareness of STEM careers, motivation to pursue a STEM career, and persistence in undertaking education pathways to those careers? (c) What culturally responsive instructional and curricular practices and models used by teachers can enhance student understanding of and interest in STEM occupations? And (d) In what ways do business/industry workforce members motivate students from diverse underrepresented populations to become aware of, interested in, and prepared for careers in the STEM workforce-how do they support teachers in promoting STEM workforce awareness and interest?
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.