Curricular exchange between a STEM university and a rural elementary school: The establishment of an interactive video link

Stephen Van Blackwood, Barbara M. Moskal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As part of an educational partnership between a university and an elementary school, an interactive video link has been established between the participating schools. The interactive video link supports the exchange and delivery of curricular materials across approximately 250 miles and minimizes the need for individual travel. The participating universities primary focus is on science, technology, engineering and mathematics; the elementary school serves students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade who live in a rural region. Through funding of ExxonMobil Foundation, this university/ elementary partnership has been established to improve young students understanding of science and engineering by enriching the curriculum with the use of hands-on activities. During the summer of 2010, seven elementary school teachers, representing grades K-5 and the schools science specialist, attended a summer workshop on the universities campus. This workshop was rich with hands-on science experiments that could be used in the elementary classroom. A graduate student from the university also attended. Immediately following the workshop and at the start of the school year, the graduate student traveled to the participating elementary school, was introduced to the students, and presented an initial lesson plan. The purpose of this visit was to meet the students before interacting with them via the interactive porthole. This made the graduate student real to the participating students. In this initial presentation, food coloring, water and strips of paper towels were used to stimulate and study the capillary action of a candles flame. The students also learned how to form and tests hypotheses. The next phase of this project is to continue communication between the university and elementary school via the interactive video link. It is the participating graduate students responsibility to communicate with the school and provide it with instructional support for up to 15 hours every week. Future lessons are planned that include the examination of states of matter and, in the upper grades, the extension of these states to clathrate hydrate cells. Clatherate hydrate cells are flammable ice like structures that can be set on fire, demonstrating the unique relationship between natural gas and water under certain set pressures. Due to the involvement of fire in this experiment, students will observe the experiment via the interactive video link rather than participate. Other lessons are planned in which students will complete the activity at their site simultaneously with the graduate students demonstration. These experiments will be collected and built into curricular units throughout the academic year. A primary form of assessment will be comparisons on baseline measures of the students performance on the states mandated science test prior to and following this intervention.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2011


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