Transforming Elementary Science through LEGO™ Engineering Design
Preliminary data on student learning in some classrooms have been collected and analyzed. For the simple machines module, students significantly improved by an average of 5.1 out of a possible 20 points on a matched pre-post written assessment (p<0.001, N = 30). For the properties of materials module, students showed significant gains on a pre-post clinical interview that elicited their ideas about selecting, measuring, and describing materials and objects (average gain 4.9 out of 36 points; p<0.05; N=9).
Additional data, which include classroom observations, interviews with students, matched pre-post assessments, and students’ written work and engineering design artifacts, are being collected for all modules to further examine the effects of elementary school engineering-based science instruction.
To date this project has been referenced in one research article and one book:
Brophy, S., Klein, S., Portsmore, M., & Rogers, C. (2008). Advancing engineering education in P-12 classrooms. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(3), 369-387.
Sternberg, R.J., Jarvin, L., & Grigorenko, E.L.. (2009) "Teaching for Intelligence, Creativity, and Wisdom", Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
This project has also been featured in four more informal articles: two in Tufts University publications, one in a New England Business magazine, and one authored by a teacher participant in a local newspaper. Links to these articles are provided below:
The investigators have developed four curriculum modules on the topics of sound, properties of materials, simple machines, and animal behaviors and structures (teacher handbook, student workbook, assessments, LEGO™ kit). ‘Simple Machines’ unit has been implemented with 152 Boston College students, of whom 70 were declared pre-service teachers; four modules were implemented with in-service teachers in fourteen 3rd and 4th grade classrooms in the greater Boston area. Summer workshops have been developed to train teachers in these units.