UVM Theses and Dissertations
Alveshere, Alexandria Marie
Science education in elementary schools is frequently under-taught due to a combination of factors: high emphasis on literacy and mathematics; low access to necessary resources; and low teacher confidence in communicating science content. Physical sciences, including chemistry, are especially impacted by teacher confidence in science content. Early interventions are key to ensuring long-term interest in not just chemistry, but STEM fields in general. Part of that involves introducing that content to students in elementary school, where there have been historical gaps in teacher confidence and content knowledge. While there is a plethora of interventions directed towards increasing the chemistry content knowledge of elementary school teachers and a myriad of pre-written chemistry lessons for that demographic, there is a dearth of information surrounding the uptake of those lessons after the initial dissemination, including where teachers seek out chemistry lessons and what they look for. Through surveying a group of current elementary school teachers in Vermont, we aimed to address that gap in information and look at potential avenues for ensuring that chemistry lessons and content is shared in a way that meets the needs of the teachers and exposes students in that critical age group to more chemistry. This data also helped in the development of a series of three acid-base chemistry lessons targeted at second grade students that help bridge the gap between teacher content knowledge and confidence. With extensive scripting, these lessons allow for the presentation of these lessons by individuals with low content knowledge without requiring extensive background reading. These lessons are formatted using the 5E layout, and although the intention was to align the lessons to current second-grade science standards, this intention was not realized. Two of the lessons are hands-on activities for students, while the third brings in a science partner to not only extend the content further but also build important community-scientist partnerships.
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