The Endeavour Paradigm
The Endeavour STEM Learning Paradigm
The Endeavour Institute has developed a STEM education methodology that augments the Inquiry Model with project-based, learn-by-doing simulations and real problem-solving opportunities.
The development of fundamental skills first and through them of knowledge is the central focus instead of the just the acquisition of facts.
The teacher does not “have all the answers” and is not the “gatekeeper.” Instead the teacher is a “guide” or “coach.” Teachers provide opportunities, encouragement, and enthusiasm while modeling habits, and techniques that will produce results. Knowledge of facts is subsequent and incidental to mastering research, analysis, and evaluation skills. The knowledge specified in the academic science standards is still acquired through the judicious choice of projects but is more meaningful and better retained.
We help the students choose a series of interesting and challenging projects that will require the targeted skills and knowledge. The instructor guides them in their inquiries and provides “just-in-time” lessons at points when they want to know the information, can make the most sense of it, and are most likely to remember it later. The students’ work is carefully guided by specifying reports and formats, but without specifying the solution or answer. The definition of a “correct” answer then simply becomes “one that works.”
This is in dramatic contrast with the most commonly used Lecture Model, where teachers present knowledge in a theoretical mode, usually before most students ever realize when, why, or how they might ever use such knowledge. The Endeavour Paradigm is not an easy model for teachers to implement. It is much easier to plan teacher-centered lectures than to “guide from the shadows” keeping the spotlight on the students.
The Endeavour teacher serves as facilitator of the learning activity and as liaison to outside experts or mentors. These expert mentors accelerate students’ ability to learn a wide variety of concepts, while the teacher assists the students with general skills such as writing lab reports, research, experimentation, etc.
Effective STEM teachers need enhanced knowledge of core concepts & skills as well as a wide variety of open-ended, exciting, and challenging projects and activities that are within the reach of students and classroom use. However, most importantly, the Endeavour teacher must actively model the enthusiasm and confidence to research, analyze, and solve problems.
NASA resources & personnel are essential sources for core concepts, skills, projects, and activities. They can also be leveraged for building students’ excitement and enthusiasm.
STEM Student Events
These events “Inspire” and “Engage” the students to hone and demonstrate their skills. They also give all of the collaborators an opportunity to come together to guide the students, recognize their efforts, and to celebrate their success. We will plan to offer 3 major events per year. An example of such an event is Balloon Science Fest. Students choose an experiment of interest to them. This can be a NASA-like Earth observing experiment or an engineering problem. They research the question, design the experiment and discuss it with a mentor before testing the ideas and equipment at intervals throughout the school year. Mentors are selected from universities as well as the community. The students, mentors, parents and other community members meet together for a full day of activities in May. The students begin the early morning by getting real data using meteorological balloon as platforms. They proceed to analyze & evaluate the data before presenting it in front of the entire gathering of peers, parents, mentors, professional scientists, and others. The day ends with a celebratory dinner and awards. This provides an entire day of intensive STEM activities & recognition.
These events are excellent for media coverage.
Teacher Workshops are the major opportunity to share philosophy, skills, & knowledge; discuss problems and solutions; and disseminate materials and lesson plans. As discussed in Dr. Liddicoat’s analysis1, it is essential that workshops be frequent and sustained. To that end, we plan to hold workshops monthly through the school year (10 times) as well as a 2-week institute each summer. Teachers will receive extensive materials, stipends, release time and travel assistance. These workshops would be offered to all California STEM teachers but would be integral to each Academy test-bed.
NASA materials, websites, and guest presenters would provide the core resources for these workshops.