2022 Chicago National Conference

July 21-23, 2022

Grade Level



Session Type


FILTERS APPLIED:PreK - 5, Hands-On Workshop, Using Inquiry-Based STEM to Facilitate Learning for ALL, Computer Science


Rooms and times subject to change.
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Programming Simple Tools to Facilitate Science Inquiry Investigations

Saturday, July 23 • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

McCormick Place - W184d

(Only registered attendees may view session materials. Please login with your NSTA account to view.)
Programming Simple Tools to Facilitate Science Inquiry Investigations.pdf

STRAND: Using Inquiry-Based STEM to Facilitate Learning for ALL

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Participants will learn about the framework for computational thinking and then learn to apply it to science inquiry investigations using Block Coding (used with students in elementary and middle school in many jurisdictions) and how it can be used to improve the conduct of science investigations (and be more like the investigations conducted by scientists).   Participants will apply the computational thinking framework to creating/modifying/using simple programs (either using a free online programming tool OR with a simple, inexpensive microcontroller that will be loaned by the presenters) that can be used in science inquiry investigations either for conducting the investigation (e.g., a random number generator) or for collecting data (e.g., a counter and a timer). Investigations where these can be used will be discussed and demonstrated. The use of the microcontrollers and/or a free online programming tool to develop a simple measurement tool provides participants (and their students) an opportunity to experience a simulated situation a scientist or engineer would face as they use computing tools to develop automated measuring responses.   Finally, as an example of what is known as “physical computing”, participants will learn to build (and will build if time allows) a physical interface (to use with a computer or Chromebook) that allows them to interact with a program they have either written or downloaded.   Participants will be provided printed copies of example lesson plans and instruction sheets on how to engage students with using the Scratch program and the microcontrollers). Note that no knowledge of coding or any equipment is necessary to participate in this workshop. 

Attendees will learn how computational thinking (applied to simple block coding examples and simple micro-controllers) can be used in science classrooms to help students conduct better inquiry investigations and better experience “authentic” science practices.

G. Michael Bowen (Mount Saint Vincent University: Halifax, NS), Susan German (Hallsville Middle School: Hallsville, MO)

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