Great Minds® is pleased to announce that PhD Science® was selected as a winning product of the “Educators Pick Best of STEMTM 2021” STEAM Excellence Award by a panel of educator judges.
The only awards program judged by STEM educators for STEM educators, the “Educators Pick Best of STEM 2021” award honors K–12 and higher education products, technologies, and services that demonstrate a positive impact on student learning in STEM and STEAM.
Winner of the STEAM Excellence category, PhD Science helps students build an enduring knowledge of science by inspiring them to wonder about the world and empowering them to make sense of it. Our K–5 authentic phenomenon-based curriculum uses technology to enhance the science, art to provide equitable access to scientific concepts, and investigations and engineering challenges to allow students to apply their knowledge and see science in action.
An educator judge wrote of the curriculum, “This product is an excellent way to help students build problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. They explore the phenomena by asking questions, gathering evidence, developing models, and constructing explanations.”
PhD Science is designed to foster student-driven learning. Teachers act as facilitators, allowing students to notice and wonder about phenomena, engage with storylines, analyze and synthesize information, and apply new knowledge to solve real-world problems. And as students take initiative and dig into the content, they engage with the rigor and challenge of the high-quality, standards-aligned curriculum and grow in their joy in learning science because they want to make sense of the world.
Let’s look at this process in action. The cover of each module shows a work of fine art that is integrated into the module’s lessons. In Level 5 Module 3 Lesson 13, students see a diagram of a symphony orchestra and watch videos of the performing arts that are related to scientific understanding of Earth’s systems. Reflecting on what they have learned about Earth’s systems throughout the module, students discuss how Earth might be likened to an orchestra. As they engage with fine art and digital resources, they see that different systems make up Earth in the same way that different types of instruments make up an orchestra, and they determine similarities between how orchestra sections interact to create music and Earth systems interact to create landforms.
Supports appear throughout the lessons, some that provide connections to other content areas, to provide additional assistance and differentiation for students. Lesson 8 of the above module, for example, includes an English language arts connection encouraging educators to draw their students’ attention to the terms biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere that are introduced in the module. This enrichment helps build students’ literacy skills in connection with the scientific concepts they uncover in the lessons. Some lessons include content area connections to math to help learners understand math concepts integrated into the curriculum.
For instance, in Level 5 Module 3 Lesson 1, students study the anchor phenomenon of Balinese rice farming and answer the Essential Question: How has Balinese rice farming endured for 1,000 years? In Lesson 1, one of the questions they attempt to answer is How is it possible to have enough rice on Earth to feed 1.6 billion people each day? In this lesson, educators are reminded that students may better understand the number 1.6 billion when described in terms of millions and are encouraged to explain or show students that 1.6 billion is the same as 1,600 millions.
Each module also includes a Science or Engineering Challenge. For example, in the same Level 5 Module 3, students end the module by addressing the phenomenon question: How can we apply our knowledge of Earth’s systems to conserve fresh water? The Engineering Challenge encourages students to apply what they have learned through the lessons and the engineering design process to design and test a sustainable irrigation system. This challenge reflects the real-life process individuals and communities may go through to develop systems that help them protect local resources and environments.
For more information on the “Educators Pick Best of STEM 2021” awards, visit the awards website. To learn more about why our phenomenon-based, inquiry-driven, student-led curriculum is the best of STEAM, contact us.
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Great Minds PBC is a public benefit corporation and a subsidiary of Great Minds, a nonprofit organization. A group of education leaders founded Great Minds® in 2007 to advocate for a more content-rich, comprehensive education for all children. In pursuit of that mission, Great Minds brings together teachers and scholars to create exemplary instructional materials that provide joyful rigor to learning, spark and reward curiosity, and impart knowledge with equal parts delight.