Funded STEM Education Project

Developing Student Understanding of Disaster-Related STEM Topics Using Authentic Interactive Curriculum Modules

MCEER Information Service and the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Learning and Instruction are collaborating on a project to combine UB expertise in extreme event engineering research and science and math education. The overall goal of this project is to develop and pilot-test a prototype learning module on earthquake engineering that will increase upper middle school students' awareness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and its role in minimizing the impact of disasters. IS was awarded a UB 2020 Interdisciplinary Research Development Fund (IRDF), one of only eight funded (15%) out of 54 submitted proposals.

The specific objectives of the learning module are to increase 7th-8th grade students' conceptual understanding in several areas:

  • math and science
  • problem solving skills
  • engineering design abilities
  • develop an understanding of the nature of technology
  • develop an understanding of the critical interaction among engineering, mathematics, science, technology, society, and the environment.

The learning module will incorporate computer modeling, require visualization exercises, and offer a virtual learning environment. The objectives for each lesson plan will correspond to age-appropriate national science and mathematics standards, and include ideas for discussion questions, related resources, and extension activities.

The disaster module will start with a digital model of a real engineering problem and will include required geographic, economic, social, and scientific background knowledge. Student groups will design an action plan addressing the initial engineering problem, which will incorporate mathematical analysis of data, logical reasoning, and problem solving. This flexible module will permit science and mathematics teachers to adapt the resources and address discipline-specific concepts.

Please visit the web site, Connecte²d Teaching, and give us your feedback. There are lesson plans, a searchable database, and an earthquake simulator that allows students create a structure, choose a seismic event, and then see how well the structure withstands an earthquake.