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Research

New Projects

Community-Based Engineering Community-Based Engineering
Kristen Wendell, NSF CAREER grant, with Tejaswini Dalvi
Community-Based Engineering has elementary school teachers consider real problems (e.g. increasing frequency of flooding on MBTA tracks) and develop possible solutions (prototyping flood barriers). The research studies how these experiences affects how they teach engineering, especially in schools serving communities that have had limited access to STEM.
Designing Biomimetic Robots Designing Biomimetic Robots
Kristen Wendell and Ethan Danahy are collaborating Debra Bernstein and Gilly Puttick at TERC to use educational robotics — specifically the Hummingbird Robot kit — to develop, refine, and study the impact of a biomimetic robotics design curriculum for sixth through eighth grade students. The project is funded by NSF.
The Hybrid Labs Project The Hybrid Labs Project
PI Julia Gouvea and Aditi Wagh, funded by the Davis Foundation
The Hybrid Labs project is developing undergraduate biology laboratories that couple computational modeling and experimentation and training graduate student TA's in new pedagogy. Research in the project will study both undergraduate students' and graduate TA's learning, of practices in science and approaches to teaching.
InPReP2 project Investigating Proportional Relationships from Two Perspectives (InPReP2)
Professor Andrew Izsák with Co-Investigators Sybilla Beckmann and Laine Bradshaw at the University of Georgia
The InPReP2 project is investigating how future middle and secondary school mathematics teachers develop quantitative understandings of multiplication, division, and fractions that they can then use to build understandings of ratios and proportional relationships and applications to linear equations and statistical samples. The study focuses on two perspectives on ratios and proportional relationships, one of which has been largely overlooked in past mathematics education research. The two perspectives are developed in mathematics content courses that future service teachers take as part of their preparation programs. We are studying the future teachers' reasoning as they participate in these courses and comparing their facility with proportional relationships to that of future teachers in a "business as usual" content course at a second university.
Integrating Computational Making into STEM Teaching Re-making STEM: Integrating Computational Making into STEM Teaching
Tufts PI's Brian Gravel, James Adler, Tim Atherton, and Aditi Wagh, funded by NSF
This is a two-year partnership with TERC, Olin College of Engineering, Malden High School, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin. The project is to integrate computational practices into STEM content classrooms, and from there to study teacher and student learning.
Re-Making STEM Re-Making STEM
Re-Making STEM is a professional development collaboration between Tufts University, TERC, Olin College of Engineering, Malden Public Schools, and Cambridge Public schools. Together, researchers and teachers are exploring the idea of "computational making" within STEM disciplines to examine how computational thinking, computational tools, and multiple ways of knowing come together in "making" to provide powerful opportunities for learning.

Continuing Projects

Here is a sampling of the research currently (and formerly) going on by faculty in the department. Take a look, and feel free to get in touch with any of us for more information, with questions, and with ideas for collaboration.

Children's Mathematical Representations
Bárbara M. Brizuela
The Children's Mathematical Representations project investigates children's early learning of mathematical notations. It builds from the assumption that conventional knowledge is built on prior understandings. From this assumption, it follows that children's ideas about mathematical notations could be constitutive of their later conventional understandings. One of the central tasks of the investigation is to document how children initially represent numerical and mathematical understandings and how and why their expressive repertoire changes over time.
Dynamics of Learners' Engagement and Persistence in Science
David Hammer
Dynamics of Learners' Engagement and Persistence in Science is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. We look across educational experiences from elementary school to university to  find examples of students' engagement in science, in particular moments, lasting for days, or even personal transformations over a semester. Within each of these, we are studying what contributes to that engagement—how it begins, how it sustains.
Early Algebra
María Blanton and Bárbara M. Brizuela
Through design based classroom teaching experiments, the Early Algebra Project investigates the ways in which children from Kindergarten through 8th grade generalize, justify, represent, and reason algebraically. Through our research, we have shown that introducing algebra as part of the early mathematics curriculum is highly feasible and we have also clarified how specific representational tools — tables, graphs, numerical and algebraic notation, and certain natural language structures — can be employed to help students express functional relations among numbers and quantities and solve algebra problems.
STEMLiMS: Investigating STEM Literacies in Makerspaces
PI Brian Gravel, in collaboration with Eli Tucker-Raymond at TERC
STEMLiMS is an NSF-funded project project aimed at understanding how participants in makerspaces engage in STEM literacy practices as they create and produce physical products of personal and social value. We are studying how participants in makerspaces interpret, use, and create representational texts, and we will use what we learn to inform the design of makerspaces for learners. Sites for our work include Artisan's Asylum, the South End Tech Center and Sprout & Co. as well as the makerspaces at the Cambridge Friends School and the Somerville STEAM Academy.