SBIR Phase I: A program to develop scientific reasoning skills in K-3 students

Period of Performance: 07/01/2015 - 12/31/2015

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

MindWick, Inc.
68 Upper Sheep Pasture Rd
East Setauket, NY 11733
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop an innovative program to spark elementary school students? interest in and passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and to prepare them for success in STEM education at the middle and high school levels and in their later careers and lives. The program is designed to develop basic scientific reasoning, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills that are central to academic achievement and workforce readiness in the twenty-first century. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, eight out of every ten new jobs created in the United States through 2025 will require some STEM skills. The innovation thus addresses a critical need to raise students' STEM proficiency and improve the economic health of our nation. The program's simple math and science content supplements rather than replaces standard curricula, making it attractive to elementary school teachers and supporting widespread distribution to schools across the United States. The project's primary innovation is a novel program of STEM education that aims to develop scientific reasoning skills in elementary school students, long before they start intensive content-oriented STEM education in middle and high school. The project is based on two recent observations made by educational researchers: that elementary school children are quite capable of reasoning processes, and that scientific reasoning skills have a long-term positive impact on students' academic achievement. Successful outcomes of the SBIR Phase 1 project will extend this prior research by demonstrating the feasibility of implementing the early scientific reasoning development program in a regular elementary school environment. Using common facts and knowledge available to all kids in their everyday lives, this program will help students develop scientific reasoning skills: observing, making predictions and comparisons, developing hypotheses, designing experiments, and drawing conclusions. During the six-month period of the SBIR Phase I project, a prototype of the course will be developed, 120 second-grade public school students will participate in a ten-week pilot course, students' and teachers' levels of acceptance will be evaluated, and the feasibility of carrying out a full-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) to study the program's efficacy will be tested.