Science and 21st Century Skills: A Natural Connection

ID: 31704 Type: Roundtable
  1. Victoria Costa, California State University Fullerton, United States

Friday, March 11 11:30 AM-12:30 PM

No presider for this session.

How are Science and 21st Century Skills Related? The focus of this session is on the review of inquiry-based science units that emphasize the development of science process and 21st century skills through the use of digital content and resources. These units engage students in the use of online interactive thinking tools to promote communication, collaboration, research, and productivity. This session will orient educators to the inter-relatedness of science process skills with 21st century skills; develop educators’ capacity to use online interactive thinking tools to promote development of these two skill sets; and increase educators’ repertoire of science units of study that include activities using the online interactive tools.


Science is not only a body of accepted knowledge, but also the processes that lead to this knowledge. Engaging students in scientific processes—including talk and argument, modeling and representation, and learning from investigations—builds science proficiency (National Research Council, 2007). At the same time, this engagement may develop 21st century skills. For example, developing and presenting an argument based on empirical evidence, as well as posing appropriate questions about others’ arguments, may develop complex communication skills and non-routine problem-solving skills. The interrelatedness of these two skill sets provides K-12 science educators with wonderful opportunities for engaging, inquiry-based science instruction. There are three objectives for this Workshop: 1. Orient educators to the interrelatedness of science process skills with 21st century skills; 2. Develop educators’ capacity to use online interactive thinking tools to promote development of these two skill sets; and 3. Increase educators’ repertoire of science units of study that include activities using the online interactive tools.

Topical Outline

• Overview of Workshop/Accessing the Wiki (10 minutes) - All materials will be provided in print and also digital form using a Wiki, through which participants will access resources and blog about their learning experience. • Ranking 21st Century Skills (modeling Visual Ranking) (30 minutes) - Educators review the 21st Century Skills using an online interactive tool, Visual Ranking. Educators engage in the Visual Ranking activity. • Review of Science Process Skills (modeling Quizlet) (10 minutes)-Educators review the science process skills using Quizlet. • Ecology Explorers (modeling Seeing Reason) (35 minutes)- Educators review a 6-8 grade life science unit using the Seeing Reason Tool. Educators engage in the Seeing Reason activity to see how as students work together to refine their understanding. • Space: The Final Frontier (modeling Showing Evidence) (40 minutes)-Educators examine a 6-8 grade earth/physical science unit where students research the issue of space exploration by investigating specific space missions and the development of different space technologies. Educators engage in the Showing Evidence activity to learn how students use the Showing Evidence Tool to synthesize their research and sort out the pros and cons of space exploration. • Further Exploration (20 minutes) - Educators explore additional science unit. Choices include Weather (grades 2-8), Help Wanted: Physicist! (9-12), Classify Animals (5-12), Density: Got Gas? (6-12), River City Water (6-12), Bridge the Gap (6-9), Habitat Conflict (5-12), What’s in Your Genes (7-12), Mysterious Malady (8-12), and Ooblick (3-8). • Creating a Teacher Workspace (35 minutes)- Educators create their teacher workspace and student accounts for accessing the above and other science units. They leave the presentation with the skills and readiness to immediately implement the unit in their classroom (both in terms of the virtual space and access to instructional print resources. • Evaluation (5 minutes)


K-12 science teachers Science educators

Experience Level



Dr. Victoria Brookhart Costa has over 25 years of experience teaching chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and education at the secondary, community college, and university levels and has extensive expertise in state and national science and math education reform efforts. She currently serves as Principal Investigator for Collaborating for Excellence in Middle School Science (CEMSS), a California Math/Science Partnership (CaMSP) with the Orange County Department of Education and Anaheim Union High School District. In addition to her work in science and math education, Dr. Costa focuses on teacher training, research, and project design and implementation of the use of technology to improve teaching and learning in science and mathematics. Dr. Costa consults for Intel Education and has traveled to throughout the United States and to South Korea, Japan, Egypt, and Portugal to provide professional development in educational technologies to university teacher education faculty and K-12 classroom teachers. One of her new projects is the development of an online middle school science and math credential program. Dr. Costa has received state and national awards for her research and innovative teacher education projects and has published in Journal of Curriculum Studies, Journal of College Science Teaching, Science Education, International Journal of Science Education, Issues in Teacher Education, Teacher Education Quarterly, and Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Her co-authored book, Secrets to Success for Science Teachers, was recently published in 2009 by Corwin Press.


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