Educator to Educator: Harness the Power of Science Inquiry from Anywhere
Teachers have adapted endlessly over the last two years, shifting from in-person to remote instruction and back again, all while creating and modifying lesson plans, curating learning resources, and administering assessments.
Middle school science teachers have a unique challenge: preparing students to think critically, analyze data, and argue and debate like scientists. This is an especially daunting task if students lack consistent access to a science lab. The pandemic shone a spotlight on a timeless need for instructional resources that are suitable for any learning environment, with an emphasis on student-driven, inquiry-based learning.
We’re Here for Science Teachers
BrainPOP Science is built by a team of former science teachers and researchers. We know from experience how important it is to simultaneously engage students while facilitating rigorous instruction that is aligned to state and district standards.
We continue to augment and refine BrainPOP Science to meet the needs of middle school teachers, based on insights from teachers and leaders in the science field and feedback from districts across the country.
Students Do Real Science, Virtually
Authentic science learning refers to “doing” real science, which includes analyzing data sets, constructing explanations and arguments, and applying other scientific practices to real-world problems and situations. BrainPOP Science units and lessons are organized in a scaffolded learning progression, so students build from foundational to more complex, abstract knowledge.
“We want to help streamline the inquiry process for both students and teachers,” said Tim Powers, lead science consultant at BrainPOP. “Teachers need easy and effective ways to build scientific and data literacy in their classrooms, while finding seamless entry points for students to work through the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) process with confidence.”
Everything Begins with Inquiry
BrainPOP Science offers a multimodal learning experience framed by a guiding question and a cohesive storyline. For example, in an earth and space science investigation, students observe patterns of the apparent motion of the planets as they prepare to explain why a year on Mars is longer than a year on Earth.
In every question, students are guided through an immersive investigation experience, collecting evidence along the way, and leveraging digital tools that provide exposure to core science skills. BrainPOP 3D Worlds®, and simulations powered by PhET and Field Day, enable students to tinker with scientific phenomena. Datasets, presented in partnership with Tuva, provide an accessible entry point for middle school students to develop data literacy skills by engaging with data from authentic sources like NASA and NOAA.
As a former science educator, I have seen inquiry-based learning ignite students’ curiosity. In the words of Jacqueline Smalls, chief programs officer of Code.org, “Science demands their action and participation.” The student-driven approach of BrainPOP Science invites learners to build multidimensional knowledge across life, physical, and earth and space science. The intuitive Claim-Evidence-Reasoning process further empowers them to apply literacy skills to science writing and argumentation as they demonstrate their newfound multidimensional science knowledge. Our goal is to enable students to engage in science and engineering practices in the classroom, and develop problem-solving skills they will apply well beyond their school years.
Michelle Newstadt, Ph.D., is director of STEM learning design at BrainPOP. She previously taught middle school and high school science and pre-service secondary science teachers.