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CIPS Workshop for Middle School Science Teachers. Constructing Ideas in Physical Science. Joan Abdallah , AAAS Darcy Hampton, DCPS Davina Pruitt-Mentle , University of Maryland. Overview. Introduction Pre-Assessment (on-line) Interest in this course - in CIPS. Introductions.

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Constructing ideas in physical science

CIPS Workshop for Middle School Science Teachers

Constructing Ideas in Physical Science

Joan Abdallah, AAAS

Darcy Hampton, DCPS

Davina Pruitt-Mentle, University of Maryland


  • Introduction

  • Pre-Assessment (on-line)

  • Interest in this course - in CIPS



  • Divide up into groups of 2 (someone you don’t know)

  • Interview each other

  • Be ready to share

    • introduce your team member to others


Overview of cips
Overview of CIPS

  • History

  • Background

  • Content Overview

  • Major Themes

  • Scaffolding

  • Pedagogical Principles


Cips history
CIPS History

  • Constructing Ideas in Physical Science

  • Initially (~3 years ago) funded by NSF

  • Collaboration of 3 Universities

    • San Diego State University

    • University of Michigan

    • Eastern Michigan University



“CIPS is an inquiry-based, year long physical science course that engages seventh or eighth grade middle school students in constructing meaningful understanding of important physical science concepts”.



  • Inquiry-based

  • Year long physical science course

  • Target = middle school students

  • Team or collaborative student efforts

  • Based on research on student learning

  • Extensive hands-on experiences

  • Complemented by computer software

  • Based on state and National Science Education Standards



So what makes CIPS so unique?


Background cont
Background cont.

  • Based on

    • Project 2061 Benchmarks for Science Literacy and Instructional Criteria

  • Developed to answer 5 questions

    • What content and skills should students know and be able to do?

    • What prior knowledge do they bring?

    • How should we teach it?

    • How do we assess?

    • How can the content be organized throughout a year to make connections?


Additional background
Additional Background

  • Content based on Project 2061 Benchmarks

  • Designed to meet Project 2061 evaluation criteria

  • Systematic sequential year long content

  • “Packaged” curriculum (kits)

  • Learning Cycles

  • Motivational fiction stories?????

  • Organized principles


Systematic sequence to connect the content
Systematic Sequence to “connect” the content

How can the content be organized throughout a year to make connections?

Through thorough analysis of the benchmarks

  • four major organizing principles of physics and chemistry to be taught at the middle-school level

    • The Conservation of Energy (4E6-8#1)

    • Newton's Second Law of Motion (4F6-8#3)

    • The Conservation of Mass (4D6-8#7)

    • The Kinetic-molecular Model of Matter (4D6-8#1)(4D6-8#3)


What do the 4 have in common
What do the 4 have in common?


  • The concept of interaction is the central theme of CIPS

  • Topics are more “coherent and meaningful” for students when each topic is approached explicitly in exactly the same way.

  • Each CIPS unit is approached as the investigation of different types of interaction (e.g., light interactions, mechanical interactions, thermal interactions, small particle interactions, and so on).

  • Whenever appropriate, each interaction is described in terms of both energy and forces


What are the units
What are the Units?

  • Unit 1: Experiments and Interactions

  • Unit 2: Light Interactions and Energy

  • Unit 3: Interactions and Motion

  • Unit 4: Interactions and Conservation

  • Unit 5: Chemical Interactions


Learning cycles
Learning Cycles

  • Each unit in CIPS consists of 2 to 4 learning


  • Each learning cycle usually targets a small set of related benchmark ideas (about 1 - 4 ideas)

  • The CIPS learning cycle has gone through many modifications

  • Current version includes four types of lessons

    in a learning cycle


Four types of lessons
Four Types of Lessons

  • Our First Ideas

  • Developing Our Ideas

  • Putting It All Together

  • Idea Power!

See Handout


Also referred to as
Also Referred To As…

  • Our First Ideas

    • Elicitation of initial student ideas

  • Developing Our Ideas

    • Development of new or modified ideas

  • Putting It All Together

    • Support of consensus ideas based on evidence

  • Idea Power!

    • Application of consensus ideas to new situation


Major themes
Major Themes

  • Interactions

  • Energy

  • Evidence-based ideas

  • Explanations




  • Pedagogical structure

  • Working individually and cooperatively in teams

  • Content and skill themes



Beliefs About Learning Goals

  • Students have ideas of new experiences based on their previous school and life experiences

  • Students make sense of new experiences based on their prior knowledge

  • Students construct knowledge gradually in a complex process in which they try to reconcile the old and new information


Pedagogy cont
Pedagogy cont.

Beliefs About Learning Goals

  • Students’ learning is mediated by social interactions

  • Interactions with tools (hands-on experiments and computer based simulations) are critical to learning

  • Complex skills must be scaffolded over time

  • Understanding is evidenced by applying knowledge in a new situation



Contact Information:

Davina Pruitt-Mentle

Director: Educational Technology Outreach

University of Maryland

2127 TAWES

College Park, MD 20742

(301) 405-8202

[email protected]

  • End slide


Inquiry based is that the same as
Inquiry Based? Is that the same as….

  • Project Based

    • An approach to learning focusing on developing a product or creation. The project may or may not be student-centered, problem-based, or inquiry-based.

  • Problem Based

    • An approach to learning focusing on the process of solving a problem and acquiring knowledge. The approach is also inquiry-based when students are active in creating the problem.

  • Inquiry Based

    • A student-centered, active learning approach focusing on questioning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It's associated with the idea "involve me and I understand.

From: Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning


Still not sure
Still Not Sure?

Compare Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning

Explore the ThinkQuest projects for some

excellent examples of all three of the



Inquiry based resources
Inquiry Based Resources

  • Concept to Classroom (online tutorials)

  • Using the Internet to Promote Inquiry Based Learning

  • Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning

  • Institute for Inquiry


Inquiry based resources1
Inquiry Based Resources

  • Information Inquiry for Teachers

  • Inquiry Page

  • Teach-nology Inquiry Links