Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 42–48 | Cite as

Learning Science in Grades 3–8 Using Probeware and Computers: Findings from the TEEMSS II Project

  • Andrew A. ZuckerEmail author
  • Robert Tinker
  • Carolyn Staudt
  • Amie Mansfield
  • Shari Metcalf


The Technology Enhanced Elementary and Middle School Science II project (TEEMSS), funded by the National Science Foundation, produced 15 inquiry-based instructional science units for teaching in grades 3–8. Each unit uses computers and probeware to support students’ investigations of real-world phenomena using probes (e.g., for temperature or pressure) or, in one case, virtual environments based on mathematical models. TEEMSS units were used in more than 100 classrooms by over 60 teachers and thousands of students. This paper reports on cases in which groups of teachers taught science topics without TEEMSS materials in school year 2004–2005 and then the same teachers taught those topics using TEEMSS materials in 2005–2006. There are eight TEEMSS units for which such comparison data are available. Students showed significant learning gains for all eight. In four cases (sound and electricity, both for grades 3–4; temperature, grades 5–6; and motion, grades 7–8) there were significant differences in science learning favoring the students who used the TEEMSS materials. The effect sizes are 0.58, 0.94, 1.54, and 0.49, respectively. For the other four units there were no significant differences in science learning between TEEMSS and non-TEEMSS students. We discuss the implications of these results for science education.


Technology Probes Elementary Middle 



Support for the TEEMSS project, including both development of the units and the research reported here, was provided by grant no 9986419 from the National Science Foundation awarded to the Concord Consortium.


  1. Adams DD, Shrum JW (1990) The effects of microcomputer-based laboratory exercises on the acquisition of line graph construction and interpretation skills by high school biology students. J Res Sci Teach 27(8):777–787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1993) Benchmarks for science literacy. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Bayraktar S (2001) A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of computer-assisted instruction in science education. J Res Technol Educ 34(2):173–188Google Scholar
  4. Beichner RJ (1990) The effect of simultaneous motion presentation and graph generation in a kinematics lab. J Res Sci Teach 27(8):803–815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonifaz A, Zucker AA (2004) Lessons learned about providing laptops to all students. Education Development Center, NewtonGoogle Scholar
  6. Brassell H (1987) The effect of real-time laboratory graphing on learning graphic representations of distance and velocity. J Res Sci Teach 24(4):385–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Friedler Y, Nachmias R, Linn MC (1990) Learning scientific reasoning skills in microcomputer-based laboratories. J Res Sci Teach 27(2):173–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hudson SB, McMahon KC, Overstreet CM (2002) The 2000 national survey of science and mathematics education: compendium of tables. Horizon Research, Chapel HillGoogle Scholar
  9. Krajcik JS, Layman J (1993) Microcomputer-based laboratories in the science classroom. Research that matters to the science teacher, no. 31. National Association of Research on Science Teaching (NARST). (Available online at
  10. Kreikemeier PA, Gallagher L, Penuel WR, Fujii R, Wheaton V, Bakia M (2006) Technology enhanced elementary and middle school science II (TEEMSS II): Research Report 1. SRI International, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  11. Laws P (1997) Millikan lecture 1996: promoting active learning based on physics education research in introductory courses. Am J Phys 65(1):14–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Linn MC (2003) Technology and science education: starting points, research programs, and trends. Int J Sci Educ 25(6):727–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Linn MC, Layman JW, Nachmias R (1987) Cognitive consequences of micro-computer-based laboratories: graphing skills development. Contemp Educ Psychol 12(3):244–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Linn MC, Lee H-S, Tinker R, Husic F, Chiu JL (2006) Inquiry learning: teaching and assessing knowledge integration in science. Science 313(5790):1049–1050CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lunetta VN, Hofstein A, Clough MP (2007) Learning and teaching in the school science laboratory: an analysis of research, theory, and practice. In: Abell SK, Lederman NG (eds) Handbook of research on science education. Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  16. Metcalf S, Tinker RF (2004) Probeware and handhelds in elementary and middle school science. J Sci Educ Technol 13(1):43–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Millar M (2005) Technology in the lab, Part I: what research says about using probeware in the science classroom. Sci Teach 72(7):34–37Google Scholar
  18. Mokros J, Tinker R (1987) The impact of microcomputer-based labs on children’s ability to interpret graphs. J Res Sci Teach 24(4):369–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. National Research Council (1995) National science education standards. National Academy of Sciences, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  20. Nicolaou C, Nicolaidou I, Zacharia Z, Constantinou C (2007) Fourth graders ability to interpret graphical representations through the use of microcomputer-based labs implemented within an inquiry-based activity sequence. J Comput Math Sci Teach 26(1):75–99Google Scholar
  21. Wells J, Lewis L, Greene B (2006) Internet access in U.S. public schools and classrooms: 1994–2005 (Highlights) (FRSS No. 2007-020). National Center for Education Statistics, WashingtonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew A. Zucker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Tinker
    • 1
  • Carolyn Staudt
    • 1
  • Amie Mansfield
    • 2
  • Shari Metcalf
    • 2
  1. 1.The Concord ConsortiumConcordUSA
  2. 2.Education Development CenterNewtonUSA

Personalised recommendations