Focus on Energy: Preparing Elementary Teachers to Meet the NGSS Challenge

An innovative approach for teaching and learning about energy in grades 4-5.

Lead Staff:
Sara Lacy
Project Staff:
Sally Crissman

Non-TERC Investigators

Nick Haddad

Summary

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Framework for K-12 Science Education lay out an ambitious progression for learning about energy, beginning in elementary school. To help the nation’s teachers address the NGSS challenge, The Focus on Energy Project brings together research, curriculum, assessment, and professional development in one coherent system. The Focus on Energy curriculum uses an innovative approach for teaching and learning about energy in grades 4-5. Students use a set of energy tracking questions and representations to reason about energy. As they engage in firsthand activities, students learn to construct coherent explanations of energy flow in contexts ranging from ball collisions to solar panels. The Focus on Energy curriculum is supported by teacher professional learning, online resources, and formative and summative assessments. Focus on Energy builds on the prior exploratory research project, Rethinking How to Teach Energy: Laying the Foundations in Elementary School. Focus on Energy Photo

Research Activity

The Focus on Energy Project is asking:

  • Teacher learning: What are the characteristics of experiences, resources, and supports that help elementary teachers learn the energy ideas, practices, and pedagogy that they will use in their classrooms?
  • Student learning: What are characteristics of experiences and resources that support students’ use of representations and energy reasoning to develop and refine models that describe energy forms and flows associated with everyday phenomena?

Videos

Focus on Energy from videohall.com on Vimeo.

Additional Publications

Robertson, A. D., Seeley, L., Wentink, O. T., & Vokos, S. (2019). Taking teachers’ ideas seriously: Exploring the role of physics faculty in preparing teachers in the era of the Next Generation Science Standards. American Journal of Physics, (Vol. 87(1), pp. 57-68).

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Gray, K., & Scherr, R. (2016, July). Drawing energy: Evidence of Next Generation Science Standards for energy in diagrams. 2016 Physics Education Research Conference. (pp. 128-131). D. Robertson (2015, July). Valuing student ideas morally, instrumentally, and intellectually. 2015 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, (pp. 275-278).

Posters

Lacy, S., Tobin, R., Crissman, S., and Haddad, N. (2018, June). Focus on energy: Preparing elementary teachers to meet the NGSS challenge. Retrieved from CadreK12.org.

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Roger Tobin, Sara Lacy, Sally Crissman, Nick Haddad, “Model-based Energy Reasoning for Children of All Ages,” Poster presented at the Gordon Conference on Physics Research and Education, Smithfield, RI, June 10-15, 2018. Lacy, S., Crissman, S., Haddad, N., Miller, L., Tobin, R., Brown, N. S., Vokos, S., DeWater, L., Gray, K., Robinson, A., Scherr, R., Seeley, L., and Minstrell, J. (2016, May). Focus on energy: Preparing elementary teachers to meet the NGSS challenge (collaborative research). Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE).

Presentations

Roger Tobin, Sara Lacy, Sally Crissman, Nick Haddad, Lane Seeley, and Kara Gray, “Where Does Energy Go when it’s “gone”? Promoting Understanding of Energy Dissipation.” NARST Annual International Conference, April 2019.

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Lacy, S.J., Tobin, R., Crissman, S., and Haddad, N., DeWater, L., Nave, B., Russell, M., and Seeley, L., “Assessing the impact of NGSS-aligned resources to address elementary energy standards.” NARST Annual International Conference, April 2019. Roger Tobin, Sara Lacy, Sally Crissman, Nick Haddad, “Model-based Energy Reasoning for Children of All Ages,” Poster presented at the Gordon Conference on Physics Research and Education, Smithfield, RI, June 10-15, 2018. Tobin, R., Lacy, S.J., Crissman, S., and Haddad, N., “Telling the Energy Story: Preliminary Results from Grades 4 and 5.” NARST Annual International Conference, April 2018. Sara Lacy, Sally Crissman, Nick Haddad, Roger Tobin, “Designing for model-based learning about energy,” ISDDE Annual Conference, Berkeley, California, Nov. 7-9, 2017.

Hands On! Article

Getting a Grip on Energy

Feature // By Sally Crissman, Sara Lacy, Roger Tobin, and Nick Haddad Photo: TERC Children Read More