Teach Wonder

These Moments Arise from Working With Teachers: A Conversation about MiSTAR

September 15, 2021 The Center for Excellence in STEM Education Season 1 Episode 9
Teach Wonder
These Moments Arise from Working With Teachers: A Conversation about MiSTAR
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We met with Doug Oppliger, instructer at MTU and member of the MiSTAR team. We talked with Doug about how writing middle school curriculum transformed his thinking about content and his own teaching. We learn more about the reasons behind this curriculum and the work that went into creating it. Doug brings specific examples of how science and engineering content are interrelated and talks about what it's like to really dig deep into content with middle school and engineering students.

Links:
MiSTAR
Michigan Tech University
NGSS
Michigan Science Standards

Show Music by: David Biedenbender 

 




Ashley O'Neil:

This episode is a bit longer than our usual ones. When you get someone on the phone who comes at teaching in so many different ways, your conversation draws in all of these different areas of expertise and interest. We couldn't cut anything out. But we understand that this episode is a little bit longer than our usual 30 minutes. To help, you can find specific chapter markers that may show you a point of interest by listening to this on our website. Now, if you're familiar with the Michigan science standards and my star, and you want to get right to the interview, you can

do that by jumping to the 4:

30 mark. If not, I'll start by giving you just a little bit of context for the conversation that you're about to listen to. Several years ago, Michigan became one of the many states to adapt directly or in our case to adjust and adapt the Next Generation Science Standards. Michigan's official standards are the Michigan Science Standards. links to both are in our show notes. These standards presented new challenges, one of which was that sixth and eighth grade were not separated into two specific grade bands. Now, middle schoolers in our state are not uniformly sixth through eighth grade summer seven through eighth, summer five through seven. So this split means that several teachers and grades in several different schools, sometimes I'll have to play nicely and work together to figure out how the standards split across each individual grade band. The second difference was the focus. The standards are broken into three categories, DCI disciplinary core ideas, and these are maybe more like their traditional science standards you'd expect SEPS science and engineering practices. These focus on the large practices that may feel like application, asking questions using models analyzing and interpreting data, etc. and CCCs- cross cutting concepts. These are a broad umbrella ideas like patterns and cause and effect and so on. So these standards are in inter woven to create a more comprehensive picture of what students need to know and do. The intention of the CCCs-, DCIs and SCPs is to use them together to teach specific science standards using the practices and bridging the understanding with these cross cutting concepts. While this is a short summary that misses many key points, I hope it gives you the basic idea. And you can already hear how we do this ask us for teachers. Not only do I teach energy, but now I need to use models and systems to show that flow helps students to see patterns in the way that energy works. And in a way that energy relates to the other areas of study. It's a lot. So my star was a project that came out of Michigan Tech University. They've been working for the past five years or so to take apart these standards and to build them into units of study. At the time of the airing of this podcast. Those units are complete, and they're in the revision phase with the team. One thing that made my star unique is how it included teachers. Each unit was written with a team that included teachers, some of them have now gone on to help train new teachers and specific practices. That's been the curriculum. they've written assessments and they are an integral part of each units development. They've also provided some amazing examples of the work in action. They're an important part here, my star takes into account the experiences that teachers have with these units in the wild to make adjustments. In sitting down with Doug today, our conversation bridges three big things, how dog and the mice our team kind of came to be and the work that happens there. How Doug's experiences as an engineering faculty both informed his work on the curriculum, and also how working on middle school science lessons transformed the way he thought about his teaching at the university. Doug has this way of making engineering and science sound approachable and fascinating. If you're teaching my star now, you'll appreciate hearing Doug's perspectives as a faculty member on the team. If you aren't teaching my star, you'll gain some great insight into how the science standards are changing the status quo of teaching and learn specific tips and what that looks like in the classroom. Here's Doug.

Doug Oppliger:

Okay, my name is Doug obligor. I work at Michigan Technological University and in the department of engineering fundamentals there. I've been teaching there for a couple of decades actually. I'm really here because of my work with with a project called Mi-STAR, which is a middle school science curriculum that's aligned to the now. I can't really say new anymore, but the standards for Michigan science education,

Ashley O'Neil:

and so I know the answer to this, but for everybody who doesn't know, how did you get involved with writing middle school science curriculum?

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, well, at the risk of like, going too far. back in time, I went to college back in the day and graduated in engineering. And then I worked in engineering field for about six years. And for many reasons, my wife was a teacher. And for some other reasons, I decided to change careers and go into teaching. So I went back to school and got a teaching certificate. And then for about a decade taught math and science in public schools. So then an opportunity came to teach at the university and teach Engineering at the University. So it was kind of a melding of those two backgrounds. And it was a great opportunity. And I'm very, very grateful that I was able to jump on that opportunity. So as a faculty member at Michigan Tech, with this prior experience in teaching in public schools, whenever a project would come up, where it involved STEM education, in K through 12, people would ask me, you know, can I help? Or could I advise or whatever, and my stars just such a project, right? It's intended to write a science curriculum, kind of in to introduce a new new way of teaching at least new to many teachers, these new standards that we're going to be coming down. Yeah, that's great.

Julie Cunningham:

So and so that I don't know if this was a question, probably not that we sent you. But I have a follow up question. So I'm curious, I imagine that your engineering background as much as your teaching background, informed how you worked on the my star curriculum. And I say that because I know that it's the NGSS has engineering standards, and is a little bit different way of thinking about science. And I also say that because I know that MiSTAR is phenomenon based. And so can you explain how you think your role as an engineer, or your background in engineering, or those skills supported? The work that you did?

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah. So as you, as you say, these new science standards, and I can't call them new? I mean, I think they were actually adopted in two members of 2016, or 17. Yeah, that sounds about right. But because of COVID happening, and all this other stuff, I mean, really, I think, I think we can still say they're, they're new, and they certainly were new when they came in, because they were unlike any other previous set of standards and, and really called for a really different way of teaching that that was typical. Okay, the Michigan science hands are based on the Next Generation Science Standards are NGSS. And as Julie just said, they contain a significant component of engineering. So in other words, we're going to teach engineering along with science in our science classes. And as an engineer, that's part of why I was I was kind of sucked into this project, or asked to be part of the project. So I had a lot of experience in teaching at the at the college level, kind of first year engineering students, you know, what exactly is engineering? And what does it consists of? And, and so there's, there's that part of it and bringing that kind of to bear to young students, you know, how do we begin it? Well begin actually in elementary school, but carry it through middle school? Like, how much like engineering do they need, and that was kind of scary to teachers, because that was a brand new thing. And engineering seems like it's a kind of a big deal, right? And it is, in some ways, but really what engineering is, is solving problems. It's using the tools of mathematics and science to solve problems. Whereas science is explaining phenomena. And so thinking about engineering in a more simple way. And the practices that go along with engineering was really helpful in thinking about what we're going to teach students but also in solving this problem of writing the curriculum. So using an engineering approach to actually define the problem, and then take steps to solve that problem. And I not sure if I answered your question, Julie, but I tried.

Ashley O'Neil:

He did he did so m, I think about so I worked ith for everyone who doesn't now I worked with Doug and did ome my star work with him for a ouple of years. Right. I think e did a few units and I was art of the initial I think that as my third week on the job ere at CMU and I went over to vsu every day for two weeks and hen NGSS training with you. And would credit you for being the eason I drink so much Lacroix ow because that's all anybody rom the up seems to drink emote there. But anyway, I lways was struck by you aturally thought about it. here does this happen in real ife? And where are the hallenges that we're seeing? So ne example that comes to mind s that I think one of the my tar phenomenon is about a arking lot, and how a parking ot changes the the flow of ater for a community or for an rea, right. And the science ontent is the life cycle or the ater cycle. And that was really ew for me. And I think another ne, we spent a really long time alking about the lifecycle of a roduct. And I had never onsidered the lifecycle of a roduct before and we were rying to explain how insulation ame from, like the very origins f insulation, right all the way ack to the fossil fuel ndustry, whether it was the iberglass or it was the the the lown insulation and listening o the incredible detail that ou had for talking about the ay that this insulation, onnected to materials and aterial production. I don't hink my teacher brain thought bout things that way. So I hink to add on to what you're aying, You brought a lot of hat direct content knowledge or this is how we see the pplication of the science verywhere. And my application f that science can really turn hese phenomena into something ool that we watch this nteresting, you know, that xplodes or implodes to this is problem or this is an pportunity to fix things in our ommunity.

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, I'm you get an A, by the way for your for your studiousness in recalling all those things from so long ago. But I think it really speaks to how powerful teaching in this way is. So to take your example, let's just do the the hydrological cycle, or the water cycle and the parking lot, what we try to do is instead of saying, okay, students, now we're going to learn the hydrological cycle or the water cycle. And the students will say, Okay, and then they learn some things and they end up it turns out, you know, often with fragmented bits of information, and maybe some like, sound bites of things they can say, and some, you know, some real, what I'll call knowledge, your understanding of, of things. But when you start with a problem, and say, here's the problem, and in that particular unit, the problem is that the river used to flow more regularly all year, and now it it goes very dry part of the year, and then kind of very high in other parts of the year. And one of the reasons for this is that the changes around the river that are manmade, for instance, this parking lot, or the lot, really that's next to the river. And so in thinking about, well, what happens to the water that falls on that lot from the rain? And how does that get in the river? versus so if it's grass, versus if it were a parking lot? And so in thinking about that the students themselves have to say, Oh, well, if we're going to know about that, maybe we should know something about like, Where's the rain come from in the first place? Or where does all this water in the river come from? I mean, we look at the river, and it's coming from over there, and it's flowing this way. But, you know, where does it really come from? And so now we're starting to really dig into that with a purpose. And, and ideally, and this is far easier said than done, you know, the teacher can guide the students to, to articulate, okay, in order to solve this, we need to know this, or we need to know that. And that's what we call student driven learning, right? The students are driving it. And that took me a long, long time. And Ashley back when we were working together, I, I didn't really get it. The way I do now, and I'm probably have a long way to go. But it is very, it's a very difficult thing to do. It takes a lot of skill, and it takes a lot of practice. But that's what we're working toward. And that's what we're you know, trying to do with this curriculum is write the words on the on the paper, so to speak, that the units right that the teacher is going to look at, but also provide the tools they need and the and the learning and the P and the professional learning communities in the back and forth and to help them really get how to do this because it is a hard thing.

Ashley O'Neil:

It is tricky. And I remember you were always so great at balancing your really deep knowledge that right you knew you knew a ton of great content, you had a ton of great insights, but you always balance that with this mindset of learning yourself to say, I'm not really sure how, like, how do we teach that what is the best way for students to learn that and you were so great at being I don't know, leave learner along with us, and really being open to understanding and trying new things. So, um, do you this kind of you kind of touched on this a little bit, but what are some ways that you do think their understanding of teaching and Middle School, primarily because of the curriculum and teaching changed as you w nt through this process?

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, so without doubt, my concepts were mostly formed in these writing hubs, it was the teachers, the inclusion of the teachers that really allowed me to see because they've been so distanced from that kind of classroom for so long, like, what has happened in the middle school classroom right now? And not just what's what are the kids learning? And what are they kind of know coming in? But like, really, what do you have to deal with, if we're supposed to do this activity, but, you know, I got students coming in at different times, and our class is like, an hour and a half, but ours is only 40 minutes, and you know, all these other other things. So there's that part of it. But, um, and learning more about, okay, so if we're gonna do the student driven learning, we've got to know like, how do we get the students to begin to ask questions. And so the teachers were so helpful, you know, to help us come up with these ideas. Like, every one of our units kind of begins with something that we call a bubble map. It's called different things. Some people call it a driving question board or something like that. But But it starts with, okay, here's this bigger problem. I saw, what questions do you have about it tonight, you have to elicit you know, those questions from the students. The teachers were so so important to help me understand more about the middle school students, they're dealing with what they know, typically coming in, of course, everyone's different. And then how do we go about, I guess, building this, building this base of ideas.

Ashley O'Neil:

And okay, so now I feel like, I want to back up for a second and just make sure that y'all understand exactly what the my start units end up looking like. So you have this hub of teachers who meet together. And there's always people from Michigan Tech there, there's usually someone who is considered the content expert, or someone from more of the science background, sometimes the faculty, sometimes someone you've hired outside, and then teachers are really a driving force that right. But every unit that you build, you took the sixth through eighth grade standards, which are not broken up by grade level, and use all of those disciplinary core ideas, you took all of the cross cutting concepts in the science and engineering practices. And you split them into chunks, and then each chunk, yeah, each became a unit. And each unit is kind of grounded in a phenomena and a problem. And the students kind of work through this driving question for the whole cycle of that unit, and typically end up with some sort of solution or projects at the end. And all of this great learning has happened through that. Is that accurate?

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, we need to hire you to be our spokesperson, because for somebody who's been away from myself for quite some time, you summed it up, as well as as well as I could. But that is exactly the process of what what the students end up with. So where they end, each unit is with some kind of, I'll call it a public display, although the public might be just their classroom. But it might also include parents or some other outside groups from their classrooms or other classrooms or other grade grades to come in and see what they've done. But some kind of display of their solution to the problem or explanation of phenomenon or combination of those things that they got from doing this unit. Doug,

Julie Cunningham:

I have a follow up question to Ashley's previous question. It's maybe not fair, because you don't teach middle school students, but I'm just curious. Every time I put, I think we put ourselves in that learner. Those learners shoes, right, we're gonna use our lens as a learner. And you mentioned that you learn lots from the teachers that you were working with. I wonder like, how did that play out in your college classroom? Did you find yourself trying anything different or changing anything along the way? Because Yeah,

Doug Oppliger:

That's a great question. And the answer is, yes, but not nearly as much as I felt like I needed to or should. So a little more explanation on that. So one of the courses I was teaching was, I would call it statics and strength of materials. So it goes pretty fast. There's a lot in it, but it has to do with forces, some sort of good things. About the basic ideas it has to do with forces it has to do with modeling. There's mathematics involved. I mean, those are kind of the basic elements of what what happens. As you look into these two topics. Well, in, you know, before my star, I, you know, I would like the students have attacks, do you have attacks and you go through chapter one, chapter two, and you said, Well, we don't have time to get to chapter eight, we're gonna skip eight and go to 12, or whatever, you know, and, and you put together a course, and you kind of go through it, because the students and the students dutifully, you know, get solutions. But I would notice, often when students would come in to talk to me, and you'd say things like, you know, there's all these words like force and stress, and you got the impression that they really didn't understand like, what a force is, or to use a practice like to use a freebody, we use this thing called freebody diagrams, which is a very specific thing. But basically, it's a picture. But when you meet one on one with students, you see TAs, they really don't like get the very basics. And you ask them questions, and they come back with, well, forces are always in pairs, or for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. They'd have these like, fragments of statements that were true, but they didn't really help us solve the problems we were trying to solve. Okay, so I knew once I started seeing my star, oh, this is, I know why this is happening. Because the way you know, they've learned up to this point, they just those fragments were good enough, you know, they put those as answers on tests, and they got As. But in order to really solve these problems, and do like hard, hard problems, you had to have a more deep understanding. So I changed in that I tried to present kind of like many my star units, right present a bigger problems that okay, to solve this problem, we need to know this. And so now breaking that down, we need to know this, and this and this. But because of and I'm sure you've moved this to, you know, count courses go fast, it's so you don't have the luck. And I'm not saying that public school teachers have this luxury, but they do have a little bit more time. So I tried, but I always felt, I need more time. And so the way you get more times you teach less, you teach less topics, you load down and reduce the number of like, topics that you're teaching, but you concentrate on the practices, like this is how we solve a problem. You know, here's the problem is define it. Now let's see what we have to know to solve it. And let's go there. long answer, but it hits, it hits close to my heart, because I never,

Julie Cunningham:

and you don't have the luxury of minimizing your amount of content at the college level, like you don't have the luxury of right. And that that I mean, that was part of what the standards were intended to do. The disciplinary core ideas were intended to say, these are the big ideas, right? And so we're not going to teach every last fact that we used to teach, instead, we're going to teach these big ideas. And we haven't figured that out at the university level, we so often teach an awful lot of content in a short period of time, which I think doesn't allow for that.

Ashley O'Neil:

I think, though, also, I don't think it's necessarily about you teaching less, I think it's about you teaching differently. Right, like, so when you do those deep dives, I would argue, I mean, I can't look at a parking lot without thinking about max on the community around ever again. And I would argue that as a whatever however old I was, at that time, I've grown adults, I have a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of a topic, which to me is more learning than the list of facts that I could have figured out with my multiple choice writing test,

Doug Oppliger:

right? You know, what I what we need to reduce is these, I guess, lists of facts, or you know, those kinds of things. But you're right, you're right, we're changing the emphasis. Right. But then

Ashley O'Neil:

it's hard. It's hard to be the frontier person in an organization to say that, because letting go of those facts comes up a perceived loss. And that's really hard to say, we're going to value this over this because you are letting those those fact lisco. And, and it's there's it's a bad it's a tough balance for sure.

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, so the professors who are teaching say that junior level courses in a college are wondering like, why aren't these students? Why don't they know something about like how to use Mohr circle or you know, whatever the thing is, and And anyway, it's, it's, it's a it's not an easy task. We know what we need to do. We know the direction we need to go, but we can only get there by just one step at a time. And at the university level, I will say, I think that's happening. And these standards happening in K 12 are driving that to a certain degree because students are now coming in with it and speaking from as an engineering instructor, they're coming in with pretty good ideas of like, engineers solve problems. And, you know, this is engineers do design. So this this, this engineering cycle or design cycle, so in other words, designing a solution to a problem, whether it's an object or a process or whatever. Yeah,

Julie Cunningham:

that's interesting that you're seeing that play out at the university level.

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah. It's, it's just beginning, but it is it is beginning. Do you want Do you have any

Ashley O'Neil:

standout moments? I am curious about that. So you I was kind of a brief had a brief stint with you in MiSTAR, but you've been in it pretty much from from the beginning, you've had a long time in it. Are there any standout moments for you when it comes to the project? And that could be anything from teacher interactions, working in these writing hubs, working on assessments, seeing some things play out watching teachers grow? Do you have any standout moments?

Doug Oppliger:

There's so many, and I, you know, what they I will say this, and I think I've already said it, but I'll repeat it. These moments almost always arise from working with with teachers. So this is very specific, but I'll just, I'll just give it as an example. And it has to do with gravity. So I used to teach physics, and physical science, and then I've taught engineering for a long time. And a lot of those things have to do with forces. And, and some of those forces, many of them, in fact, have to do with this thing. That's called gravity. So I guess the aha moment, in more of a general sense, not just with gravity is like, Whoa, this is a lot more complicated than I thought. And not that I thought gravity was was simple, but just the way it's taught. And the way it's experienced from students is really complicates things. So in the case of gravity, you know, human beings experience it really, even before they're born, right, and we experience it and and what does it do? Well, it pulls things down. That's how we experience gravity from the moment we're born on through life. But then we go to school. And gravity starts to become associated with these things called forces. And then this action reaction thing and forces come in pairs, but always seated deep, deep in our minds is gravity pulls things down, you know, and so everything needs to sort of fit in with that, because that's what we've experienced. Okay, so moving on. things being in orbit around the Earth, is actually is, is becoming quite important. In our society, we use weather satellites, and we use Lao communications, like our internet is starting to come from satellites, and many other uses. So it's pretty important to our society, and protecting those satellites from whatever it is right from just whatever phenomenon that they are going to experience, which might be manmade, and might be from nature, whatever. So there's a reason for society in general to know something about this fact that we rely on these satellites and maybe something about you know, why they're important and how they work well turns out to be an orbit that really has to have a lot Have to do with gravity, right? So having something in orbit is all about gravity. But gravity just pulls things down toward Earth. Right? That's what gravity does. That's where it's always done. That's obscene to do if I pick up a pen drop me Let it go fall. So we've got this, like two different things. And then in the textbook or whatever it says, well, the force of gravity depends on directly proportional to the mass of two objects, but inversely proportional to the distance between two objects. And I've got students in college who can say that, but if you ask them, How do we put something up in orbit? And how does it stay there so that it can make my phone work? Right, when I go to navigate from through this construction? They can't put those things together. And so to answer your question, that we have a unit that deals with this, this topic, like it's an earth science based unit, and part of it is understanding gravity. I mean, that's what the DCI says it talks about things in orbit. Well, this is really hard, because students come in with this life long experience of gravity. And they've got fragments of information from whatever courses they've had about gravity. But now when you really have to, like understand what's going on, it's very difficult. And I could repeat the same story for just about every unit I've encountered. And so the odd thing is, man, oh, man, this is really hard. We can't just, you know, say these fragger or promote learning these little fragments of information about things we need to really understand kind of the heart of the of the phenomena. So we can then understand, like these things that are happening that we see observing around us, and explain them and use those ideas to solve problems. Wow. I,

Ashley O'Neil:

I think that's a really great way to think about the challenge of teaching the NGSS. And the challenge of writing my star is that those kind of fragment facts those fortune cookie science factoids, you get you get you far on a in a textbook, but they don't get you far in terms of actually understanding information. And one thing that I think I learned from you is wrestling with those, that information wrestling with that content, wrestling with the phenomenon. That's really the point of this, right. And I think that that's tricky. To tell it to teach teachers and to teach students is that, yeah, you're supposed to be wrestling with this, this is supposed to be a little uncomfortable and difficult. And there's questions you won't automatically have the answer to. But that's, that means we're doing thiswell.

Doug Oppliger:

And, and what you just said, is awesome. And, but it brought to mind another like, aha thing is that it's so tempting, as a teacher, when a student is like, at doing this wrestling to like, Well, here's the answer. It's so tempting to do that. Because you know, like you want, you have a bigger understanding, right? You're a teacher, you're an adult, blah, blah, blah. But it's that wrestling. That's the learning, right? And so it's so easy without even like, you know, you don't you're not trying to do anything wrong, you're trying to actually be helpful, like, here's the answer. We're doing a couple different things. One is we're short circuiting that wrestling process. And two, we're training students that somebody will eventually Tell me what the what I'm supposed to write on the test. If I just don't participate, somebody will tell me what the answer is, you know, and that what you said is really important. And so again, kind of embracing the struggle right? The struggle is real and let's embrace it is, I think a really important thing we need to do and that it's okay for me to say to students Well, yeah, we don't know yet. We have more to learn right? It's going to take a while and it's not going to be easy, but that's okay.

Julie Cunningham:

So I hear a handful of challenges when I when I listened to you today about teaching this way and I know that there's value in teaching this way right? But if I'm in the classroom I here number one, I don't always know what questions students are going to ask me and I don't always know if I'm going to have the right answer. So that sounds a lot to me. Like I have to know my content pretty well or I have to be a little okay with uncertainty in my classroom teaching right. already established a little bit but that we have to probably if we want to teach this way, the About slowing down, think about. So sometimes, that's a tough thing to do in a school day, because we know we've got 20 minutes for science today. And I've got to get through whatever, right. So that's another, I would imagine a potential challenge. And then there was a third one, I was thinking, I guess just that this, some of this content is hard. And you might have to, I might have to, as a teacher struggle along with my students at times, or I might have to figure out things with them. And I guess that goes back to the uncertainty or not necessarily knowing what my students are going to ask, right now looking for this little one right answer.

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, and it is you're going against a long tradition and current of a teacher is the sage on the stage, right? And they know the answers and students are trained to like, eventually, the teacher is going to tell me the answer. But we got to move away from that, yes, the teacher has to be a content expert, they need to kind of be ahead of the students. But also, with the understanding that you're not always going to be you're not always going to have the answer, be as much of an expert as they can. But understand, you know that that's not going to cover everything, but that's the way the world works. That's the way it works. You know, we we are constantly faced with problems. And there's no answer, you can't look it up. You can't Google it, you got it, you got to go out and work at it. So that to have students see the teacher do that and say, huh, yeah, there's something going on here. That's, that's weird. And I will tell you, as someone, you know, was in teaching, and I remember distinctly, in fear that students and some of the fear was because some students would would ask questions, right, but you're kind of fearing cast, what, you know, we were on this road, I don't really know what to know what's going on there. Or they'd ask the question, and you'd realize I'm in, I'm in over my head here. It's pretty hard to say at least it was for me, then now, I understand a little better. But to say, I don't know. I don't think anybody in this classroom knows that the answer is outside of here. So in order to get it, here's what we might be able to do.

Ashley O'Neil:

Do you think that there is a any, like a science topic that you think every kid should have the opportunity to really dig into and explore? I know, that's hard. It's like, pick your favorite. But

Doug Oppliger:

yeah. Okay, so I'm of two minds here. And I think about this question. One is, you know, the most basic ideas, say and same as engineering, or if you could identify that, or the most basic one. So you could say, or I could answer something like, energy, energy is huge, it's pervasive, it's super important. It's the solution to many of our problems. It is many of our problems. You know, using fossil fuels, mining, energy sources, burning, help that side of it, but it's the solution, like gets us around, it makes our phones work, or you know, all of these things. So energy is, I guess, a big thing. But, but like what I've already said, and I'll just repeat is really its process, the process of explaining phenomena and solving problems. So that explain phenomena is the science, solving problems, the engineering, getting students just to practice, practice, practice those things is probably the most important because then no matter what topic you encounter, you've got a process, it's going to help you to deepen your understanding, and hopefully explain the phenomena. So whatever it is, it's happening in the world around us. It looks like the temperatures of the earth are heating up over time, and their temperatures are getting higher over time. That's what the data shows. So using evidence and reasoning to explain those phenomena, and then using the tools of science and mathematics to solve problems for society. That's, I think those are the top things.

Julie Cunningham:

And then empowering, right, because then when a student leaves your classroom, they're not reliant on you to solve the next phenomenon they have to explain or the next problem they have to solve because he's got this process that you've instilled.

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, we've instilled in hopefully, they've seen us struggle with it, as we were just talking about right. They've seen us in That is a situation we don't have answer. And then they've gotten practice to do it. Yeah, exactly. Totally. with them.

Ashley O'Neil:

This has been great. I've really loved catching up with you again. Is there anything that we you wanted to share that we haven't asked already? Where my start is now or any other, you know, great tidbits.

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, I guess it Yeah. Where my star is now is something I would, I'd love to share, as best I can. So we have indeed, written all 22 units that we set out, set out to write. And they are all out there in the world. So where we are now is teachers can can come into my star, you know, there's plenty there. As we've talked about, we need to kind of reduce the number of topics and we've got guides to help teachers know like, what if they go and do you know, three units or four units, you know, which ones which ones to do? So you've got suggestions on that. And our professional learning is going ongoing. So you've got professional learning ongoing, we've got revisions of the units, we are actively working to improve units. So that's that's kind of where we are not we're in not the creation phase, but the revision and improvement and support phase.

Ashley O'Neil:

What a great example, right? That is one of the big engineering process of the unit. Right? It's constantly as you know, more, you do better and you improve. As you as you're nice.

Doug Oppliger:

Yeah, yeah, it's yours. Can't get away from it.

Ashley O'Neil:

This is teach wonder brought to you by the Center for Excellence in STEM education at Central Michigan University. As always, links are in the show notes and full transcripts are available on our website. Your feedback is always valuable. If you like the show today, feel free to rate or leave a comment wherever you listen and let us know what topics are of interest to you and what you'd like to hear next.

Doug's Background and Persepctive on MiSTAR
The role of an engineer in writing science curriculum
How did your understanding of teaching change?
How did MiSTAR Change your teaching?
Standout Experiences in the Program
Challenges and Opportunities
Where is MiSTAR now?