Toolbox and K-12

November 25, 2014 at 4:26 am

toolbox_logoLast Friday Michael O’Rourke and Brian Robinson presented the Toolbox Project to the Kellogg Biological Station’s GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project. This project is Michigan State’s program (funded by the National Science Foundation) that puts Graduate STEM students in K-12 classrooms. We got to hear about some of the exciting experiments on bioenergy sustainability that they are doing with the kids to help teach how science is done (as opposed to just conveying scientific findings).

gk126Michael and Brian presented the Toolbox methodology and ran the grad students through an abbreviated Toolbox Workshop. Since the graduate students come from a variety of STEM fields, what their doing is a kind of interdisciplinary endeavor, albeit pedagogical instead of research. We had them complete Toolbox modules on the purpose of science and confirmation and then dialogue on those topics. As we hoped, a variety of views were expressed. As they talked, several of them verbally expressed that articulating their assumptions about science grew harder as the dialogue proceeded. This was precisely our goal, as we believe it will help them as science communicators.

After the presentation and workshop, we discussed with the grad students the possibility of using the Toolbox method for facilitated dialogues in the classroom (with modified, easier prompts) or for training K-12 science teachers. Both ideas were well received and the grad students gave some great feedback and ideas. Both of these would be exciting new avenues to expand the Toolbox into and we may have updates next term on our efforts.


cross-posted on Brian Robinson’s site: Ceteris Paribus

Toolbox at the ASC, CSSA, and SSSA Annual Meeting

November 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm

On November 15 at the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Soil Science Society of America, & Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting, Jodi Johnson-Maynard (Idaho) presented work on behalf of the Toolbox and Drs. O’Rourke (Michigan State), Robinson (Michigan State), Janet Rachlow (Idaho), and Eigenbrode (Idaho).

The presentation (“Building Interdisciplinary Communication Skills”) focuses on the collaboration of the Toolbox Project and the University of Idaho’s CRISSP Research Undergraduate Experience (REU). REU has been employing Toolbox workshops for several years now to help train their students in interdisciplinary communication. We reported some new findings on successful outcomes of the Toolbox workshop with these undergraduates.