Contributions within the discipline
The major goal of the MSTe project is to develop models for the integration of mathematics, science, and technology into the elementary schools. To accomplish this goal, activities focus upon the integration of experiences in technology with contemporary approaches in mathematics and science. MSTe provided opportunities for participating teachers to integrate math, science and technology in learner-centered classrooms through enhancing their own understandings of MST content and processes, and through utilization and adaptation of exemplary instructional materials. Problems real to students are at the core of MSTe activities.
Participants in this Project have gained a deeper understanding of instructional approaches, such as inquiry and design, cooperative learning, student-directed investigations, and constructivism. They have built a repertoire of standards-driven learning activities; they have MSTe'd existing curriculum materials by making them more open-ended, integrative, and by adding inquiry and design components.
Many of the teachers regularly use design portfolios and include design as an instructional strategy. Design is seen by teachers as a tool for independent and group-based problem solving for their students. In mathematics, students are being asked to explain their thinking and write about their thought processes.
Contributions to other disciplines
The Project has contributed to the preservice education of elementary teachers at Hofstra University. The MST model has been integrated into the preservice science methods course and continues to promote constructivist practice. The design- and inquiry-based constructivist approach to teaching and learning is transferable to subjects outside the MST cluster.
Contributions to human resources development
A significant component of the professional development experience provided by this Project to participating teachers is their work alongside research scientists at the Brookhaven National Research Laboratory. Teachers have engaged in scientific research under the tutelage of expert scientists and are modeling inquiry-based science in their own classrooms.
Contributions to resources for research and education
The project has created an MST laboratory designed to support the preparation of future MST teachers and update skills of current teachers. The MST laboratory shares its space with environmental science which is very compatible with the life science and earth science portions of the elementary school curriculum. The goals of the laboratory are to:
- Develop an understanding of design and problem solving through the use of a variety of tools and equipment.
- Develop a greater understanding of the environment. Equipment has been purchased to support students' (teachers') study of plants, pollution, water cycle and life cycle.
- Develop an understanding of computer technology through the use of software such as Hyperstudio, creation of CD-ROM's and the use of digital photography.
- Expand the understanding of biotechnology and electricity with sample experiments and activities.
These goals are being realized with equipment that is reasonably portable, thus allowing the laboratory equipment to be used in other locales as needed.