I decided to look at the project “Space Colony! Genetic diversity and survival” (ID 175). In this project, the students are challenged to consider genetic mutations, diversity, and cloning as they decide how to colonize three different planets. I like this lesson as it challenges students to think about a variety to topics as they work through their challenge. Despite the number of topics, I believe it was presented in a very logical manner. What I thought was missing from this lesson was one of the tenets of SKI, which is learning from others (Linn, 2003). This component is something i really liked in some of the other projects that I viewed (such as the one on cystic fibrosis). So I built pages after the open ended questions to have students share their ideas/answers. Then a page on ideas/answers from others that they decided to copy (with explanations on why they wanted to copy them, or what about that idea really appealed to them) and finally a page that allows students to sort their ideas (both their own and from peers) and resubmit their answer to the original open ended question. I also had them reflect on whether or not their ideas changed and if so, for them to justify their changes. I felt that this addition promoted learning from others, as well as reflection on their own thoughts, and would support students as they actively constructed knowledge on these topics.
I felt this WISE project had all the other tenants of SKI (Linn, 2003), which are:
1. making learning accessible
2. making thinking visible
3. promote autonomy/life long learning
In regards to making learning accessible, despite talking about topics at the cellular and genetic level, they always tied to back to something students can relate to, such as siblings, twins, etc. They also brought in real life examples, such as “Dolly”, the first cloned sheep.
Throughout the lesson, they either asked open ended questions or multiple choice questions to gauge student understanding of concepts. This makes learning visible, increasing teacher awareness of students thoughts and diversity. They also incorporated a few simulations and great visuals to help students understand complex phenomena.
Finally, the project is organized in such a way that students learn the process of inquiry, which promotes autonomy in learning. I really liked the logical flow that this project has, and the final wrap up which brings all the concepts back together in the end. As such, I think I would run the project as it is presented, with just the added component of collaboration/learning from peers.
1. Linn MC, Clark D, Slotta JD. WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education. 2003;87(4):517-538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086.