Incorporating computational science activities in High School Algebra

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Conference Proceeding

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Despite great increases in the role of computation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), there has been no comprehensive curriculum for computational science in K-12 education [5]. The June 2005 President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) report stated that "only a small fraction of the potential of computational science is being realized", and "the diverse technical skills and technologies ... constitute a critical U.S. infrastructure that we under appreciate and undervalue at our peril [4]." Despite a growing focus on STEM education, a substantial shortage exists of Americans qualified to work in STEM professions, including scientific research [1]. Progress in training computational scientists is lagging demand in the U.S. today. As this decade is seeing growth in the number of graduate, undergraduate, and teacher training programs in computational science [7], it is vital that the curriculum and materials to infuse computation into K-12 schools are made available. Previous studies have shown how interactive learning objects can be incorporated into teaching, allowing teachers to make classrooms more engaging and student active, provided faculty using the resources have adequate training, a willingness to modify their teaching styles, and access to or time to create quality interactive assignments [6]. The Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD), a Pathway project of the National Science Digital Library, collects learning objects for teaching about and teaching with computation, reviewing items in its catalog on the basis of verification, validation, and accreditation to help provide faculty with information regarding the quality of the learning objects [3]. This study attempts to determine the effectiveness of a set of interactive learning materials from the CSERD collection in teaching concepts in a freshman Algebra I class. Materials from the CSERD resource Project Interactivate [2] will be used in a series of 4 lessons through February and March 2006 at a parochial school in Northeastern New Jersey. Students will take a pre- and post-test on topics covered in this period. Students and teachers will be surveyed to determine their attitudes towards the use of computation in learning and towards mathematics in general. Additionally, students will submit a daily feedback statement after each augmented lesson.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries

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