Introducing Inquiry-Based Computational Science and Modeling to High School Students and Teachers

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Brent Krueger, Hope College

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This research was supported by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Hope College.


Computational science and modeling (CSM) has become an integral part of modern research fields. But many high school students (future scientific researchers) are not given adequate exposure to this primary mode of investigation. Therefore, a one week workshop for high school science teachers was held at Hope College to introduce a large number of students to CSM before they reach the undergraduate level. During this workshop the teachers were trained in using WebMO, a research tool which creates input files from a menu-driven interface and organizes complex output files from computational engines. The workshop also included instruction on building inquiry-based lessons, which engage students in forming their own questions and making their own discoveries. Each teacher developed a WebMO-based inquiry lesson appropriate for high school students. Workshop participants completed pre, mid, and post-workshop assessments to determine gains in their CSM proficiency as well as the modifications needed to improve the effectiveness of the training and the overall experience of the workshop. After each teacher implements a WebMO lesson, students were assessed to determine their confidence in defining and recognizing CSM, as well as its impact on their understanding of the chemistry content.

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