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Making Decisions about Complex Socioscientific Issues: A Multidisciplinary Science Course

Summer 2016 /
The idea of "science literacy" lies at the heart of reform efforts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education reform and serves as a primary rationale and global vision for the impact of systemic K-16 science education on civics and society.
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The Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program: A Model for Authentic Science Learning

Winter 2016 /
Providing students the opportunity to truly do science has been shown time and time again to positively influence their science learning experience, including increasing students' interest in science (Ainley et al. 2002; Hasni and Potvin 2015; Palmer 2009; Potvin and Hasni 2014; Rivera Maulucci et al. 2014; Sadeh and Zion 2011; Spronken-Smith et al. 2012; Swarat et al. 2012). Other studies have reported that students engaged in inquiry-based learning focused on the process of science actually improved performance on achievement tests (Abdi 2014; Blanchard et al. 2010; Schneider et al. 2002). With the development and adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (National Research Council 2013), teachers have been further encouraged to step away from the traditional teaching of discrete facts to a broader exploration of the world around us via inquiry-based learning. Through collaborative programs, there is now more opportunity than ever to engage students in the process of meaningful, authentic science learning.
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Strengthening STEM Education through Community Partnerships

Winter 2016 /
School districts across the state of California (CA) are failing to teach the scientific disciplines (Dorph et al. 2011; Rumberger 1985). More specifically, when elementary students receive science instruction, it is often of poor quality and in fleeting instances (Conderman and Sheldon Woods 2008). Only one in ten CA elementary students receives interactive and engaging science instruction on a regular basis (Schweingruber et al. 2007). The lack of instruction in science content is evident at all grade levels, but is perhaps most clearly apparent and detrimental in K-5 education (Rumberger 1985).
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Smart Moves: Making Sense of the Math in Environmental Data

Winter 2016 /
Community members who live close to polluting facilities or toxic sites are often among the first to recognize the threats to human health. The historic pattern of placing polluting industries in or near low-income neighborhoods means that residents in these communities carry an unequal burden of negative health effects from environmental contamination (Faber and Krieg 2002). Bolstering the effectiveness of community groups organizing to clean up, curtail, or close down polluting operations has the potential to make a positive difference in human and environmental health. Local community groups that are well organized often prevail, gaining environmental protections and limiting negative health effects
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Incorporating Photo-Book of Concepts in Physics and Environmental Chemistry Courses

Winter 2016 /
Critical thinking and analytical reasoning, problem-solving skills, and the ability to understand varying perspectives on issues are among the traits valued by employers in evaluating job applicants. As knowledge is expanding so quickly, students cannot possibly master content knowledge; the key is to learn habits of mind that will enable them to continue learning beyond their formal academic training. Experiential learning activities can help students integrate and apply skills and knowledge in real-world settings and situations, and thus accelerate their success (Association of American Colleges and Universities 2007; Kuh 2008; Texas Woman's University 2013). Furthermore, student engagement is positively linked to learning outcomes such as critical thinking and grades (Carini et al. 2006). Extensive research also suggests that students need to "think well," and activities should be embedded in courses to encourage critical thinking (Pithers and Soden 2000 and references therein).
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The "Muddy Waters" Environmental Geology Course

Winter 2016 /
Connecting urban students to the geological aspects of their environment can be challenging—more or less so, depending on the geographic setting. In the geologically "plain" setting of Chicago, where there are few visual indicators of geology, students generally lack awareness of, and therefore interest in, the natural processes that shaped their environment. Add to this a public school system that only rarely offers high school earth science courses, and the result is geologically and in turn environmentally disconnected students. At Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), in northern Chicago, this disconnect from the physical environment may be compounded by student demographics
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