Beginning in July 2021, Nurture Nature Center will lead the four-year project “Building Insights through Observation: Researching Arts-Based Methods for Teaching and Learning with Data” funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research PreK-12 program. The project will conduct foundational research to understand the ways in which arts-based instructional methods and geospatial data visualization can be successfully applied by science teachers.
Nurture Nature Center will partner with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Education Development Center, and J. Sickler Consulting, LLC (evaluator) on the project. NNC Science Director, Dr. Kathryn Semmens, will serve as Principal Investigator, along with Co-Principal Investigators, Keri Maxfield (Art Director, NNC), Amy Busy (Education Development Center), Hilary Peddicord (University of Colorado at Boulder), and Jessica Sickler (J. Sickler Consulting, LLC). Rachel Hogan Carr (Executive Director, NNC) and Randy Kochevar (Education Development Center) will also support the project.
The research team will work with a team of advisors and two cohorts of middle school teachers to develop a teacher professional development program and a toolbox for educators including a lesson repository. Using the NOAA Science On a Sphere mobile app to connect to authentic scientific data, the project will focus on visual thinking skills that apply in both science and art: describing, wondering, recognizing uncertainty, and interpreting with evidence. Arts-based pedagogies for observing, analyzing, and critiquing visual features of data visualizations will help students build an understanding of what the data reveal, improving data literacy in an increasingly data saturated world. The project will use an iterative approach that will use feedback from the participating middle school teachers through in-person workshops at Nurture Nature Center to shape the program and toolbox.