1. Gillian Puttick
  2. Principal Investigator
  3. Innovate to Mitigate
  4. http://innovatetomitigate.org
  5. TERC
  1. Brian Drayton
  2. Co-Principal Investigator
  3. Innovate to Mitigate
  4. http://innovatetomitigate.org
  5. TERC
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 09:08 a.m.

    The fact that the pilot teams sustained their engagement over such a long period of time is striking. Across the teams, was the project able to identify factors that contributed to engagement? Also, what did the project learn from the pilot that it applied to the second round?

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 09:33 a.m.

    By design, we asked all teams to nominate a local coach whose job it would be to provide “executive function” – keeping teams on track, reminding them to meet, things like that. As it turns out, all of the teams had a teacher in this role who played an important part in moving their work along. One team solicited help from a graduate student whom a team member knew, and regular meetings with the grad student meant that the team made progress in prep for each meeting. In addition, a couple of teams reported having one team member who played this central role. One thing we learned from the pilot – that the project took too long! So, we’ve shortened the participation period by approximately two months in the second round.

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 07:53 p.m.

    Thank you for the reply, Gillian. I really like the analogy of executive function. Brilliant to have a local coach. I imagine there must have been some tension in trying to find the right length for a project. Too long and students might fade. Too short and the authenticity of the experience might suffer. Have you narrowed in on the “just right,” or is that exploration ongoing?

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 01:20 p.m.

    Wow, what a great project! I really liked the goals of the project in that you are engaging students in real world problems and having them use scientific methods to help solve the problems. I have some questions about this project. Is this project a regional or national one? Can you describe or explain if consideration has been given to doing this nationally? Can any science teacher join and have their students be involved in this, and if yes, what is the process? I am also interested in finding out if students of ethnically diverse backgrounds and young women were involved in the project. Can you also describe some of the challenges you encountered as the project moved forward? Again, I think this is a great project and looking forward to the discussion!

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 09:31 a.m.

    The project is a national one, and in fact, we received an inquiry from an American School in the Middle East that ended up entering a team of students. Yes, science teachers can join – in fact, all of the pilot teams first heard about the competition from their teachers, who learned about the project from the call we distributed via NSTA list-serves. We had participation from ethnically diverse and female students. This is an exploratory project, so it’s currently not funded to continue, but we’re noting names in case we do get further funding.
    Two of the main challenges we encountered were related to our research, and to recruitment, respectively. Because our intention had been to track learning within a framework of distributed cognition, we had set up a reporting system online, with a carefully constructed template designed to elicit student reporting about their progress. The template design was also intended to scaffold student reflection about their work as it progressed, which of course, would provide us with valuable data about how, what and when learning was happening. However, after using it for a couple of weeks, all but one team stopped using it, and kept their own lab notebooks instead. We are in the process of trying to obtain their notebooks, but it is unclear how much data we will actually have to be able to analyze their work using a distributed cognition approach. We addressed the second challenge, low recruitment, in two ways. First, in addition to dissemination via teacher list-servs, we deployed an extensive social media campaign to spread the word about the competition and solicited help from several partner organizations to list the project on their websites. Second, we created a two-tiered competition, to make the initial entry of ideas a low-risk and low-effort proposition.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 11:12 a.m.

    Thank you for the great reply Gillian. I really have learned a lot and hope that you do get further funding for this project. I think that having students investigate and mitigate the problems facing our planet can lead to future solutions of a very serious problem. Thanks again!

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 11:50 a.m.

    Yes, everyone on our team would agree with you Arthur! Although this is primarily an educational research project, finding mitigation solutions was most definitely an important goal as well. Everyone on our team has been inspired by the engagement and motivation of these students.

  • Icon for: Davida Fischman

    Davida Fischman

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 01:41 p.m.

    I love the idea of focusing on potential solutions that mitigate rather than (yet again) the problem of climate change. So much more effective in the long run. Is there a plan for follow up – could some of these proposed solutions become commercial projects?

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 09:33 a.m.

    Yes, the whole design of the original idea was informed by the 2009 report from the American Psychological Association, which emphasized the importance of empowerment around the issue of climate change. With regard to commercialization, we were concerned about ownership of ideas, and decided to deal with it by posting a disclaimer on the project website, as follows: “As is many crowdsourcing efforts, winning ideas submitted to the competition become the property of the sponsor of the competition, in this case TERC. Since TERC is a non-profit, we will ‘give back’ the crowdsourced results to the public on ethical grounds, for non-commercial purposes, under a Creative Commons license.” It is possible that some ideas might become viable commercial projects – at least two of the teams have told us that they were highly motivated by the project to continue to work on the ideas they developed for the project.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 03:44 p.m.

    Great project, Gillian. I wonder where the crowd-sourcing comes in. I see where students are working in teams, but I don’t get the crowd-sourcing.

    Also, I like all the results you report, and I wonder what you can tell us about how to get such results from other programs? e.g., sustained engagement over a long period of time. What does it take for that?

    I wonder, too, how you trained grad students who participated. What were their roles?

    What, too, did you learn about student learning? (Actually, I think their engagement with science and engineering and their excitement about science and engineering might be enough, but I wonder.)

    Finally, have you thought about how to help learners sustain their new selves — the selves who are excited about environment, science, engineering, learning, …? You have a wonderful infrastructure for fostering identity work — the reflection people need to do to become new people and feel good in their new shoes, or to figure out that something does not suit them. I wonder how you are taking advantage of the infrastructure for such identity work. If you are not doing that yet, then I think you can use your infrastructure to begin to learn what those who are successfully refining their identities are doing and then think about how to systematize that (without getting rid of the fun and the learner agency, of course). There is also literature on fostering identity work.

    I’m moving to Boston; perhaps we can talk about all this after I move.

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 04:36 p.m.

    Janet – Wow, a lot of thoughtful comment and questioning…I’d love to talk about all this when you’re in Boston!
    About crowsourcing – You’re right there is no crowdsourcing in this design. As we originally conceived of the project design, we imagined that the online space would provide a public forum for exchange and improvement of ideas from many students and/or teams from all over the country so as to elicit a multiplicity of approaches and ideas. To us at least, this represented a kind of “crowdsourcing solutions to mitigation” if you like (though there is debate about a specific definition of crowdsourcing). However, as we got into the details of design and recruitment, the competitive element and the chance of winning a prize seemed important components that would, we theorized, contribute to motivation and persistence. There were also concerns about ownership of ideas in the pilot. So, ultimately we made the decision to create private project spaces for each team. The second round, in having a larger reach, has more of a crowdsourcing approach, and we also solicited all the entrants to comment on the submitted ideas…
    About sustained engagement – We think there were at least two factors at play, one was the important role the teacher played as coach, and the other was the enthusiasm of the teams for the mission. All of them mentioned how important the issue of climate change is, and how much it mattered to them to try to “make a difference” in addressing a meaningful real-world problem – so in this, we do have a self-selection bias. The students also mentioned the open-ended nature of the problem space, and specifically how it challenged them to use their imaginations.
    About grad students – We provided a two-hour webinar to provide orientation, and shared a brief FAQ document with guidelines about how to provide constructive feedback as a “critical friend,” judge when to ask questions and when to provide answers, and be alert for crises. Grad student roles varied across teams – some maintained regular contact, while others gave input at the outset but then did not seem to be needed once students got deeper into their project work. One grad student mentor, who was recruited by the team locally, provided a great deal of technical support – and also ended up telling us he learned quite a bit from the students’ project!
    I agree, the levels of student engagement and excitement about science and engineering seem like enough! We’re in the process of analyzing student learning now, but anecdotal evidence from interviewing teams is that they learned a great deal about the science of their project – as well as quite a bit about the process of science. I agree about the value of identity work – we included a couple of identity questions in our survey, but haven’t paid as much attention to it as we could. Again, in interviews, a couple of students have told us that they see themselves as scientists now, having previously not felt any commitment to STEM before this experience. Looking forward to thinking with you about how to systematize ways to refine identity.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Senior Director, Communications
    May 12, 2015 | 08:38 p.m.

    The video is beautifully done and the engagement of the students—and the sophistication and ambition of their ideas—are inspiring. I am happy to hear that a round two of the competition is underway!

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 09:51 a.m.

    Miyoko – Yes, it is inspiring to see such innovative thinking! Students in round two will be submitting their videos in the next 3 weeks, and these will be visible to the public beginning June 8 at innovate2015.videohall.com

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    Laurie Brennan

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 08:13 a.m.

    It is a wonderful project to engage students in the important matter of climate education and sustaining what we have. Students can investigate and explore using a media that they are comfortable with and that has such high impact and reach.

  • Icon for: Richard Hudson

    Richard Hudson

    Director of Science Production
    May 13, 2015 | 05:40 p.m.

    Approaching climate change through inquiries into mitigation strategies really brings the students inside the problem. I think a video featuring the students telling their own stories would be even more powerful and revealing.

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 05:45 p.m.

    Richard – Have you seen the videos they submitted for the competition? They’re at innovatepilot.videohall.com. But I wonder if you’re thinking of a different way of framing the video for students so that they tell their own stories in addition to the science story we asked them to tell?

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director
    May 14, 2015 | 11:31 a.m.

    What a fabulous video about crowdsourcing ideas for mitigating climate change.
    Hope it is OK to mention that you are making use of the fabulous Videohall.com platform that is the same platform being used for the current 2014 Video Teaching and Learning Video Showcase! Your project empowers teens, makes them part of the solution, and probably converts them to being activists. Actually have you tested this last assumption? Thanks for this great video!

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 06:09 p.m.

    Joni – I’m glad you mentioned the videohall platform – all the students commented after the experience that they really found the judges’ queries and ensuing discussion about their work extremely valuable! As far as testing the assumption that they will become activists is concerned, students have reported that they plan to continue working on climate mitigation, and more specifically than that, they plan to continue working on their project ideas. Not exactly a test of the assumption though, because they were drawn to the project in the first place as a result of their concern about climate change. We didn’t ask them about previous activism, but we did include that question in the survey for the second round of participants.

  • Small default profile

    Myriam Steinback

    Guest
    May 14, 2015 | 12:36 p.m.

    What an interesting approach and focus – mitigating climate change. Seeing teenagers working on this and with such great ideas is encouraging. Their videos should be interesting to watch.

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 06:10 p.m.

    Myriam – I also feel greatly encouraged that their generation will be competently addressing the problems that we have bequeathed them!

  • Icon for: Robert Teese

    Robert Teese

    Professor of Physics
    May 14, 2015 | 04:45 p.m.

    I really like the idea of having students working in teams and sharing their work with students at other schools. Have you considered having students at two or more different schools collaborating in the same team? In the real world today it’s not unusual to have work groups spread out all over the world.

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 06:00 p.m.

    Robert – one of our assumptions was that students might collaborate at a distance, so we set up the team spaces on the project website to make that possible. But as it turned out, the students on each pilot team all came from the same school. I suspect that we would have to actively recruit students to form teams in the way you suggest…a good idea to consider in the future!

  • Icon for: Katherine Paget

    Katherine Paget

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 15, 2015 | 10:30 a.m.

    Fascinating project, Gilly. I do wonder whether expecting to create viable teams at a distance makes sense for high school students. Collaboration at a distance is truly a challenge for us “professionals.”

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Presenter
    May 15, 2015 | 11:36 a.m.

    Thank you Kathy! There are models of students conversing at a distance, perhaps sharing data as well, but it would be interesting to see if they could successfully manage a truly collaborative effort. Our teams efficiently managed their documents – papers to read,lists, lab notes, etc. – using google docs, but it would be more difficult for them to figure out how to share the work of their investigations. I’d guess a lot would depend on the type of design and testing they’d want to do…

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.