ERIC Number: EJ1048980
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Jan
Deconstruction Geography: A STEM Approach
Gehlhar, Adam M.; Duffield, Stacy K.
Middle School Journal, v46 n3 p3-9 Jan 2015
This article will define the engineering design process used to create an integrated curriculum at STEM Center Middle School, and it features the planning, implementation, and revision of the Deconstruction Geography unit. The Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Center opened in the fall of 2009 as a way to relieve overcrowding at the district's only other middle school. The teachers at the new STEM Center were a mix of volunteer transfers and new hires, empowered by the opportunity to create a school from the ground up. The experience of a metadisciplinary (Werth, 2003), fully connected, and integrated curriculum was transformative for the teachers at the STEM Center. Consistent with the middle school ideal of teacher teams, the metadisciplinary approach erases lines among disciplines and creates "a larger curricular focus that transcends or supersedes traditional disciplinary boundaries to create a truly holistic, systemic, integrative worldview uncluttered by familiar limits and barriers" (Werth, 2003, p. 36). While experiencing this curriculum, the teachers quickly realized that it was the Engineering Design Process (EDP) that allowed the deep connection among the content. The EDP from the Museum of Science, Boston (2012) has five steps including: (1) Ask: What is the problem? What have others done? What are the constraints?; (2) Imagine: What are some solutions? Brainstorm ideas. Choose the best one; (3) Plan: Draw a diagram. Make lists of materials you will need; (4) Create: Follow your plan and create it. Test it out; and (5) Improve: Talk about what works, what doesn't, and what could work better. Modify your design to make it better. Test it out. The idea for the Deconstruction Geography unit evolved from a story in the news. The news clip described a conflict over minerals in Africa that were being used to assemble products in Asia that were sold and consumed in the US and Europe. That news story inspired the idea that technological artifacts could be used to travel the world, thinking about why certain products were manufactured in particular places and how all of these items journeyed to the classroom. Drawing from the state standards, a teacher developed a set of prioritized learning goals that he called power standards, in order to encourage students to analyze primary sources to understand people, places, and environments; explain patterns of trade and global interdependence in a changing world; and identify how people organize for the production, distribution, and consumption of goods.
Descriptors: Geography, STEM Education, Teacher Collaboration, Middle School Teachers, Educational Change, Educational Planning, Strategic Planning, Change Strategies, Barriers, Instructional Development, Interdisciplinary Approach, Educational Practices
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A