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Planting the Seeds of Social Justice

in STEM Learning and Teaching


The Role of Educators in Cultivating
Question Askers, Problem Solvers, and Ethical Citizens
Dr. Jeremy Price
Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA
November 12, 2015

Discussion Warm Up

What is the first word or idea that


comes to mind when you think of

STEM?

(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

The Questions We Ask Plant the Seeds for


Exploring Social Justice in STEM Education

Discussion Underpinnings
Enduring Understanding
The questions teachers ask themselves while planning and with
their students have the power to seed STEM teaching and learning
with meaningful social justice issues.
Essential Question
How do the questions teachers ask in the planning of their
curriculum infuse social justice issues in STEM learning?

Setting the Landscape


Finding Our Bearings in STEM Education and
Social Justice

Four Ways of Doing STEM Learning and Teaching

Acting On

Communicating

Practicing

Understanding

What Is Social Justice in Teaching and Learning

Empowering
Learners

Recognizing
and
Respecting
Difference

Facilitating
Equal
Opportunities
and Access

Understanding
Structural
Inequalities

Basu & Calabrese Barton, 2010; Cochran-Smith, 2004; Dimick, 2012; McDonald, 2005; North, 2006; Ritchie, 2006; Tan & Calabrese Barton, 2010

Why Teachers Ask Questions in


STEM Learning Environments
To manage the classroom ("Have you
finished the titration?" "How many
have completed problem 17?")
To reinforce a fact or concept ("The
food making process in green plants
is called photosynthesis, right?")
To stimulate thinking ("What would
happen if...?")
To arouse interest
To help students develop a mind-set
(Blosser, 1990)

The Sixth Way of Questions in STEM Education


Using Questions to

Build Bridges
between

STEM Ideas and


Practices
and

Social Justice

Good Questions Push Us to the Heart of Things


Making the tacit
explicit

Serve as stepping
stones to further
questions

Discover learners
experiences and
backgrounds

Problematize what
we think we know

Challenge learners
to connect across
concepts and ideas

The Pleasure of and Need to Ask Questions


[W]e teachers and students
must constantly experience the
pleasure of asking questions, the
need to ask questions. There are
challenges that need to be
answered, not covered by a veil.
We must be more and more
curious in the face of social
challenges.
(Brass, Macedo, & Freire, 1985, p. 17)

Exploring Food Insecurity


As a Social Justice Orientation for STEM Learning and Teaching

Food Desert Phenomenon


Food Deserts are [U]rban neighborhoods and
rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy,
and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and
grocery stores, these communities may have no
food access or are served only by fast food
restaurants and convenience stores that offer few
healthy, affordable food options.
Source: https://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/fooddeserts.aspx

YOUR MISSION
Context: You are designing an extended
investigation for your mid- to upperelementary students related to food
insecurity
Task: Craft questions that will help you
design an investigation that will grow
students into question askers, problem
solvers, and ethical citizens.
Materials: Pennsylvania State Standards,
The USDA Food Research Atlas, Time for
Kids article, and the End Food Deserts PSA.

NOTE: Your task is to craft the questions; dont worry (at this point) about the investigation or the activities.

Communities as Food Deserts

https://youtu.be/Z6i0mIkk_OE

Questions from the PSA

What makes a
community a food
desert?

Questions from the PSA

Can you get fresh


vegetables where
you live?

YOUR MISSION
Context: You are designing an extended
investigation for your mid- to upperelementary students related to food
insecurity.
Task: Craft questions that will help you
design an investigation to grow students
into question askers, problem solvers, and
ethical citizens.
Materials: Pennsylvania State Standards,
The USDA Food Research Atlas, Time for
Kids article, and the End Food Deserts PSA.

NOTE Your task is to craft questions; dont worry about the investigation or the activities.

Sharing and Discussing Your Questions

Where We Go From Here


Essential Questions for Further Inquiry into
STEM Learning and Teaching and Social Justice

Questions for Moving Forward


How do the questions teachers ask in their
classrooms while teaching help students uncover
the connections between social justice issues and
STEM learning?
What can we hear from the students own interests and experiences
that help them uncover the connections between social justice issues
and STEM learning?
What are the understandings, practices, and communication skills that
we want our students to adopt in uncovering the connections between
social justice issues and STEM learning?
What experiences and environments can we design in which to engage
our students to help them grow into question askers, problem solvers,
and ethical decision makers?

https://flic.kr/p/7b118o

Jeremy Forest Price, PhD


jeremy.price@fairmontstate.edu
http://bit.ly/stem-social-justice