Proposal Title

From Nanometers to Kilometers and Beyond: Teaching Physical Properties Across Multiple Scales

Session Type

Presentation

Room

P&A Rm 148

Start Date

July 2015

Keywords

Scaling properties, quantity, nanoscale, molecular scale, cellular scale, perception across scale

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

The concept of scale, proportion, and quantity has been identified as one of the “cross-cutting concepts” in the Next Generation Science Standards being adopted in the United States. These ideas have value in science education as they provide students with tools to reason across their discipline and think logically about other disciplines. Other workers have developed important ideas in this area of reasoning across many ranges of scale, revealing various levels of sophistication demonstrated by students, and describing the development of paper-based instruments to measure student competency in this area. We have developed an on-line psychometric tool that attempts to measure student abilities in this area. We will discuss our work with first-year and fourth-year classes in our Nanoscience program, noting both similarities and differences in class and student performance. This has led us to some refinements of the instrument that we believe will provide improved measurement of an individual’s ease with scale reasoning. We will be using this to assess student aptitudes across various disciplines to identify where in their education they develop skills in the ranges needed for their work (e.g chemists in the range of ångstroms, biologists more on the µm scale, astrophysicists more on the Tm scale, etc.) This will allow us to assess how well this ability impacts on a student’s academic performance and how the effectiveness of future interventions can be measured. Audience members will be invited to run-through the on-line instrument during the presentation.

Elements of Engagement

If time and location permit, we will test the audience with some of our scale perception instruments.

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Jul 8th, 3:45 PM

From Nanometers to Kilometers and Beyond: Teaching Physical Properties Across Multiple Scales

P&A Rm 148

The concept of scale, proportion, and quantity has been identified as one of the “cross-cutting concepts” in the Next Generation Science Standards being adopted in the United States. These ideas have value in science education as they provide students with tools to reason across their discipline and think logically about other disciplines. Other workers have developed important ideas in this area of reasoning across many ranges of scale, revealing various levels of sophistication demonstrated by students, and describing the development of paper-based instruments to measure student competency in this area. We have developed an on-line psychometric tool that attempts to measure student abilities in this area. We will discuss our work with first-year and fourth-year classes in our Nanoscience program, noting both similarities and differences in class and student performance. This has led us to some refinements of the instrument that we believe will provide improved measurement of an individual’s ease with scale reasoning. We will be using this to assess student aptitudes across various disciplines to identify where in their education they develop skills in the ranges needed for their work (e.g chemists in the range of ångstroms, biologists more on the µm scale, astrophysicists more on the Tm scale, etc.) This will allow us to assess how well this ability impacts on a student’s academic performance and how the effectiveness of future interventions can be measured. Audience members will be invited to run-through the on-line instrument during the presentation.