Introducing nanoscale phenomena to middle school learners using a DNA design activity

Authors: Lopez Silva, B., Bernasconi, M., Abuhabsah, A., Moher, T.

Publication: Proceedings of the American Educational Research Association 2009 Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA

This paper summarizes the design rationale and classroom experience surrounding a middle school instructional unit on a nanoscale phenomenon: the self-assembly of DNA strands as applied to the problem of virus detection. The instructional design was motivated by a strategy for integrating new nanoscale content into an existing curricular unit, situating learner activity within a design framework, and using multiple representations of nanoscale phenomena, both as media for the design activities and as the object of student critique. Students in a middle school classroom showed significant pre-post gains both in their understandings of domain concepts and in their ability to articulate affordances and constraints of representations and models.

Date: April 12, 2009 - April 19, 2009

Document: View PDF
Students use PDAs surrounding dynamic simulated “cauldron” to design and attach candidate “catcher” strands - B. Lopez Silva, LTG

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