CoreModels Materials Development  

Table Of Contents

Typically, the Northern Region Center Director, Don Shaffer, has been in charge of coordinating the development of biology materials and the Western Region Center Director, Charlotte Trout, has been in charge of coordinating the development of physics materials. The review and editing process, as well as integrating mathematics materials with these content areas, has been handled by Central Region Center Director, Susan Ragan.

Physics Materials

The physics materials for the first summer workshop consisted of 8 activity packets. All these packets contained laboratory activities as well as STELLA activities. Only one or two contained possible rubrics. The materials were presented to the Central Workshop in late June and suggestions from those teachers regarding wording of questions and instructions were incorporated into early revisions. Teachers from the Western workshop also contributed ideas. These edited materials were used by physics teachers throughout the state during the first three months of the school year. Teachers with applied physics classes or physical science classes modified the materials, generally with a Supporting Teacher or Center Director's assistance, to fit the needs of their students. During the Western Regional Workshop, some comments about the types of questions were fielded from physics teachers. In response to this, and in consideration of student learning goals, a partial revision of physics materials was begun for the second semester. These revised materials demand more higher order thinking of the students and draw better connections between the various packets. The revised materials have been field tested by the Western Region Center Director's classes.

The Simple Kinematics and FreeFall packets were written for upperclass physics classes, but two teachers wished to use them for freshmen taking Matter and Energy. The physics teacher from Montgomery Blair worked with the Central Region Center Director to re-write those packets with directions and questions appropriate for ninth graders.

Biology Materials

Although almost all of the biology materials used in the first 6 months of the CoreModels project were developed by one of the Center Directors, by the end of the first year the Supporting Teachers contributed significantly by adapting, modifying, creating alternative versions and in some cases developing new materials. By the end of the first year, most of the biology materials included contributions by several teachers. During the first and second year the Northern Region Center Director attempted to coordinate materials development and to revise a core group of biology materials based on feedback from the Supporting Teachers, new Participating Teachers and from their own classroom experiences. In the second year, Supporting Teachers continued to adapt and modify materials and showed increased interest in developing new materials and models. Their alternative versions of materials, along with CD revisions, were shared with the entire group at Saturday workshops throughout the school year. Participating Teachers generally used the existing materials as is during their first 6 months, but already began showing interest in developing new models and materials by the second half of the year. They also contributed very valuable feedback on the materials from their classroom experiences. This was also was obtained through discussions from CD visits to PT's and ST's, particularly when these discussions were held near the time of classroom implementation of the materials. Also valuable were group discussions of material use at the four Saturday workshops throughout the school year. This ongoing collaborative process of materials development should become continually richer as long as previous teachers are kept involved in the program.

During the summer, it was anticipated that deer population would be the first model done by classes in the fall. Therefore, a detailed description of using STELLA icons to build the model was included in the materials. Once school started, some teachers decided to use the Carbon Cycle model as the first modeling experience. After helping a class build that complicated model, the Central Region Center Director rewrote the directions to lead the students through the model-building process. Testing it at another school showed that it made the Carbon Cycle activity go much more smoothly.

Supplemental Materials, Editing and Review

The biology and physics materials were written so that student answers and directions were interspersed in the same packet. For large schools with limited paper, this caused a problem. Central Region Center Director Susan Ragan changed the layout of three packets so that a classroom set of directions could be used by several classes while question and answer sheets were provided for each student.

Janet Crampton, an experienced editor, has accepted a contract to edit CoreModels materials for future publication. She is working closely with Center Director Susan Ragan to present content and pedagogy in a manner that is visually pleasing and meaningful. Having an editor on board will allow the CoreModels teachers to concentrate on the models and the student questions rather than the layout and appearance.

Special materials requests: In response to a variety of teacher requests, work has been started on the following items:

  • Content Background: Since many texts have little information on the carbon cycle, supplementary materials have been added to that packet.
  • Math Background: Since some biology packets require curve fitting and calculation of growth rates, explanations of math concepts have been added.
  • Reference Sheets: To assist those who forget some of the basic STELLA operations, a set of reference sheets to be posted in the classroom or kept in a notebook is being developed.
  • Debugging Hints: Common modeling errors are being compiled into a set of debugging hints for teacher and student use.

Environmental Science, Earth Science, and Chemistry

There is only a short time to get ready for summer training of environmental science, earth science, and chemistry teachers. From previous experience, we know that modifications will be made during the summer and next school year. Thus we need to concentrate on clear student activity sheets. Teacher guides and fancy formatting will be added as the student activities are tested and refined. Several of the models are cross curricular and have been used extensively. Others have been used in the past in a few classes. During the last quarter of the 1998-1999 school year, physics and biology participating teachers who also teach these subjects will be called up to work with project leaders to review, critique, and modify these modeling activities. Quality is more important than quantity since this year 90% of the classroom implementation focused on the four or five most popular biology and physics activity packets.

Environmental Science

Earth Science


World Population

Rock Cycle


Deer Population

Orbit-Keplerís Law


Carbon Cycle

Carbon Cycle


Water Cycle

Water Cycle


Bay Productivity


Change of State

Bay Predator/Prey




Radiant Energy


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