As part of the Interactive Learning and Design Lab (ILDL) led by Dr. Sadhana Puntambekar, I helped co-author the Growing Healthy Plants unit. This unit is part of Bio-Sphere (NSF Award #1418044), a four-year design-based research project about supporting science inquiry in middle schools. I acted as lead author due to my background in biology, specifically genetics and plant sciences.
Growing Healthy Plants uses Wisconsin Fast Plants as a model for understanding the role of plants as producers. Students learn about plants’ traits, their environments, and interactions between these (including with humans as major consumers of plants). Students develop growing systems that optimize plant growth while conserving resources. Beyond developing growing systems for Fast Plants, students also document science content and design processes in their journals, read with an e-textbook (VidyaMap), and participate in other hands-on activities and simulations.
I also contributed to a companion curriculum titled “Make Your Own Compost!”. For my dissertation, I redesigned two activities (sorting compost and simulating compost) from this curriculum as a pop-up program that was hosted in two science museums to examine how families in museums supported each other’s learning and used scaffolds embedded in the activities.
To learn more about Bio-Sphere, follow this URL: http://ildl.wceruw.org/projects/current/bio-sphere.html