The Elementary MoDeLS group is examining 4th and 5th grade elementary students' development of their modeling knowledge and modeling practice.
We have developed an instructional approach that provides multiple contexts for children to engage in modeling over a significant period of time, while minimizing the amount of curriculum change required of elementary teachers. First, we designed a 4-6 week unit about condensation and evaporation around the phenomenon of a solar still for 5th grade. The unit integrates scientific modeling into the lesson sequences. Second, we have designed supplemental modeling activities or revised previously existing activities in which we identified existing topics or units such as electricity and astronomy that provided opportunities to foreground modeling practices and metamodeling knowledge. These activities were integrated within an already existing unit in accordance to the instructional modeling sequence.
Our intention is for the teachers to use both the evaporation and condensation unit as well as enhanced modeling within their prior materials within a school year. Within this curricular context, we are analyzing our data to examine what modeling practices and metamodeling knowledge elementary students develop as we engage them in this scientific practice.