iBEARS: An Interdisciplinary Method for Teaching Young Students to be Scientists

Conference: The Paris Conference on Education (PCE2022)
Title: iBEARS: An Interdisciplinary Method for Teaching Young Students to be Scientists
Stream: Interdisciplinary, Multidisciplinary & Transdisciplinary Education
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Tracey Sulak, Baylor University, United States
Alex St. Louis, Texas Christian University, United States


Science interest predicts educational and occupational outcomes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The United States is not alone in its goal to encourage broader participation in STEM pursuits, but despite the funding allocated for studying and promoting STEM education, we have seen little change in metrics related to diversification and excellence in these areas. We propose a unified, interdisciplinary method for bringing science to the students who need it most and creating opportunities for developing interest through active learning in STEM fields. Our program, iBEARS or Inclusive Biologists Exploring Active Research with Students, uses technology to bring active learning into science classrooms with the goal of providing teaching opportunities for university undergraduate science majors, called mentors, while creating learning and research experiences for school-age students. The undergraduate mentors facilitate a 12-week research project ̶̶ from conceptualization through communication of results at a research conference ̶ with a classroom of school-age students; the students learn scientific processes, which serve as the context for instruction in mathematics, technical writing, and presentation skills. Classroom teachers receive sustained professional development in inquiry-based teaching in science and gain self-efficacy in instructional and classroom management practices. Preliminary results show increased communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills for both undergraduate mentors and classroom students in addition to increased knowledge and skills related to science. All participants ̶ teachers, students, and undergraduate mentors ̶ demonstrate enhanced science identity after participation. iBEARS interdisciplinary approach to science education offers a portable method for removing barriers to high-quality science experiences.

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