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Science in STEAM education

“The intrinsic beauty of science and a fascination with how the world works have driven exploration and discovery for centuries” (1).

From an early age, individuals act as natural scientists while seeking to understand how the physical world works. In trying to understand how the natural phenomena occur and function, they employ procedures similar to those followed by natural scientists. Normally, they begin with a question about a phenomenon, such as “How day and night occur?” or “What causes the formation of clouds?” and proceed by developing possible theories that provide explanations to their questions. In a similar way, scientists formulate empirically answerable questions about the phenomena they are studying, make a research in the related literature to see what is already known, develop hypotheses that derive from their questions and the background information they obtained through research, collect data/evidence either through designing and performing experiments or using secondary data from existing databases, analyze the data and provide explanatory answers to the initial questions. This process describes the so called “inquiry-based approach”, an approach that has been proposed by the science education community to denote all tasks that students are supposed to engage with while doing science in an authentic and scientifically oriented way.

In the context of the Polar Star project, we suggest the Inquiry Cycle designed in the PLATON project adjusted to STEAM education (see below). We firstly present a figure of the cycle and suggest (by using different colours) in which phases each other STEAM discipline could be embedded. We then describe each phase and suggest, with the colour associated with each discipline, an addition/adjustment you can employ in order to embed a tool and/or a practice associated with a specific discipline. For additional information regarding the suggested tools, you can take a look in the description of each discipline.   

It is noted that you can make your own adjustments based on your students’ needs and interests, the problem at hand, etc. and if you are accustomed to a different inquiry cycle (e.g. inquiry-based learning cycle by Pedaste et al. (2) you can make similar adjustments to it like the ones presented in the description of the cycle below. Technological tools could be utilized in all the phases of the inquiry cycle, depending on the context you have chosen to work with (you can find suggested tools in the section about technology).

(1) National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

(2) Pedaste, M., Mäeots, M., Siiman, L. A., De Jong, T., Van Riesen, S. A., Kamp, E. T., ... & Tsourlidaki, E. (2015). Phases of inquiry-based learning: Definitions and the inquiry cycle. Educational research review14, 47-61.

More on Science in STEAM Education

STEAM Activity Template

This activity template concerns the STEAM approach (more emphasis on Science). From an early age, individuals act as natural scientists while seeking to understand how the physical world works. In trying to understand how the natural phenomena occur and function, they employ procedures similar to those followed by natural scientists. Normally, they begin with a question about a phenomenon, such as “How day and night occur?” or “What causes the formation of clouds?” and proceed by developing possible theories that provide explanations to their questions. In a similar way, scientists formulate empirically answerable questions about the phenomena they are studying, make a research in the related literature to see what is already known, develop hypotheses that derive from their questions and the background information they obtained through research, collect data/evidence either through designing and performing experiments or using secondary data from existing databases, analyze the data and provide explanatory answers to the initial questions. This process describes the so called “inquiry-based approach”. In the context of the Polar Star project, we suggest the Inquiry Cycle that derived from the PLATON project adjusted to STEAM education.

More on the PLATON Inquiry approach

 

How to Use the Activity Template?

The template is divided in two parts. In the first part you can provide basic information about the activity, as well as relations with the other disciplines of STEAM which you can utilize during the implementation. In the second part the actual activity is described which is developed and presented based on the phases of the Inquiry Cycle and the overall STEAM approach of the project (see STEAM orientation section). A brief description of each phase is provided to facilitate the design of the activity for that phase by describing the process in which you and your students will be engaged in, as well as the related tools to be used.

Download the template in pdf format

Download the template in editable format

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About

POLAR STAR aims to bring together state-of-the-art learning pedagogies and combine them with exciting activities that focus on contemporary science, thus helping teachers to introduce STEAM successfully in their class. At the same time the project will focus on the development of students’ key skills and competences as well as deepening their knowledge of fundamental science principles, increasing their appreciation of science and technology and their role in todays’ societies. POLAR STAR aims to offer an open and innovative training framework to teachers of primary and secondary education which will focus on:

  • Promoting the 'Science as a Whole' concept;
  • Promoting a holistic STEM educational approach;
  • Promote the introduction of contemporary science activities in schools;

 

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