FIRST STEP Online is the culmination of a teacher enhancement project, Federal laboratories' Involvement in Research in Science and Technology for Science Teacher Enhancement (FIRST STEP), funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) and United States Department of Agriculture/ Agriculture Research Service/ Southern Plans Area (USDA/ARS/SPA). It was designed to combine the expertise of a research scientist and a science teacher to bring actual research into middle school classrooms. The model is as follows:
1. Each teacher spent two weeks in a USDA/ARS research lab working with a research scientist. The focus was on developing an "inquiry lesson" that would actively engage their students in part/s of the scientist's research program.
2. The teacher then went to Texas A&M University at College Station for a two-week summer institute focused on inquiry learning and constructivist pedagogy to help in the development of their "mini-research unit".
3. The teacher then returned to their local USDA/ARS lab for a week to fine-tune and complete the "inquiry lesson".
Teacher Sue Warmann building a classroom - friendly hydroponics apparatus with the help of her scientist -Mike Grusak.
4. During the school year, the teacher and scientist worked with their students on the "inquiry lesson".
In this unit, each tray was filled with a different hydroponics solution. The control tray had a complete set of nutrients.
10 of the more successful "inquiry lessons" now comprise FIRST STEP Online.
Statement of Support:
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.