Supporting Collaborative Inquiry ENgineering and Career Exploration with Water (Water SCIENCE)

Project: Research project

Description

In this ITEST (Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers, NSF 14- 512) Strategies project, middle school students from southern Arizona, southeastern Pennsylvania, and eastern Massachusetts will complete hands-on science and engineering projects, receive guidance and instruction from undergraduate and graduate student mentors, and learn about careers in environmental conservation and engineering while investigating their communitys local water resources. Students from participating schools will become more aware of where their communitys drinking water comes from, and where that water goes after leaving homes, schools, and businesses. Moreover, the project will raise students awareness of the critical roles played by scientists, engineers, and other professionals in maintaining the availability of safe drinking water, as well as the educational pathways leading to these careers. The projects educational activities will reflect the real-world challenges faced by water authorities in the three geographic regions: water scarcity and hardness in Arizonas arid climate, animal waste and agrochemical pollution in Pennsylvanias farming communities, and road runoff and wastewater management issues in eastern Massachusettss densely populated urban centers. Participating students will use mobile computing devices and chemical testing kits to assess the quality of their drinking water andin areas with abundant surface water resourcesthe health of lakes and rivers near their schools. The project team will develop a mobile app to automate the evaluation of chemical water testing strips and facilitate the sharing, mapping, and visualization of student data online. By fitting inexpensive optical attachments to smart phones and tablets, students will also be able to capture magnified photographs and videos of samples taken from lakes and rivers, assessing the turbidity of the water and documenting the presence of invertebrate life forms or visible contaminants. After completing their water quality assessments, students will conduct classroom engineering projects that model the technologies used to clean, conserve, and manage their local water resources. These activities will include the cleaning of water by physical means (e.g., filtration techniques and ultraviolet light), chemical treatments (e.g., pH balancing and chlorination), and biological methods (e.g., plant root uptake). In addition, students will engineer solutions for water conservation, such as approaches for reducing household water consumption and systems for collecting and re-circulating rainwater. As a capstone experience, students will engage in a role-playing exercise involving a simulated water emergency, such as a protracted drought or an oil or chemical spill. Students will be organized into small teams representing the various professions involved in addressing real-world crises: water quality scientists, environmental specialists, water infrastructure engineers, public safety officials, etc. The scenario will unfold over the course of one or more class sessions, with key pieces of information and decision points being revealed at regular intervals. The project team brings together specialists in K-12 curriculum development (Concord Consortium of Concord, MA), engineering education (Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ), freshwater science and conservation (Stroud Water Resource Center of Avondale, PA), and educational technology (Machine Science Inc. of Cambridge, MA). Each participating teacher will receive a $1,500 stipend, more than 20 hours of professional development training (both in person and online), and a set of classroom science and engineering equipment to use with his or her students. All activities will be aligned with state science learning standards, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date10/1/143/31/17

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $160,609.00

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student
engineering
water
drinking water
water resource
water quality
biological method
agrochemical
lake
chlorination
project
curriculum
rainwater
river
hardness
photograph
visualization
science
turbidity
invertebrate