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Part of the book series: Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education ((CTISE,volume 44))

Abstract

We are born with a powerful integrated set of tools and capabilities that help us read the world. The visual is often dominant, critical, logical, relevant and hard-wired (Dahaene, S. (2009). Reading in the Brain. New York: Penguin Group). However, schools tend to privilege text by closing the visual (images, color, symbols, and typestyles) aspects of content off, dis-integrating and reducing its status and impact. Graphic design is a field of expertise that integrates pictures and words, using words as visual expression that can help students access content, construct meaning using a broader set of tools and demonstrate knowledge. Graphic design is already in mathematics and science education classrooms, however, many users do not fully utilize the learning and communication potential of graphical languages.

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Acknowledgments

Thank you to Yoselin Rodriguez who was a first semester freshman when this work was produced. Since then, she has been accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts/Master of Education Dual Degree in Visual Art.

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Correspondence to Nicole Weber .

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Appendices

Example 9.1: Life Science Course Supported by the Engineering Design Process- Green Choices Case Study

Green Spaces are all around you. Here is a scenario to think of when designing your plant research experiment. We all have green spaces around us, however are they being utilized in a way that would benefit us, our students, and other local biodiversity. When thinking of your biology exploration, think of how the green spaces can be addressed. We will then begin to create the links between content and practices within the life science and engineering core ideas, as presented in the new framework of the National Research Council (2012) to begin to visualize our research in a cross-disciplinary context. First we will learn about the case study, and examine possible solutions as a class. Then we will look at our individual plant research projects to see how the experiment itself can provide some supportive data for some of the possible solutions.

In Boston, schools are often surrounded by potential green areas (like an open lot, roof, or parking lot), which can be utilized for scientific educational purposes. The main modes of experimentation in and around the school campuses are classroom or even lab based, where they are often not equip to handle long term and/or “natural” science projects, simply due to the shear volume of individuals needing the space to work or the facilities itself. By looking at the local habitats, some schools may be able to provide a “natural lab” where students can explore outside the walls of the classroom.

Here is a charter school where the campus lab only has an indoor facility available for students to work, not allowing students to maintain experiments beyond a week, due to the number of students in the school. So two teachers started to look beyond their school walls, where they focused on the possibility of an abandon lot across the street from the school and a fenced in area within the school parking lot. They have received a small fund to employ 8 students over the summer to work at the school on this project, however need help in figuring out what the areas can be used for and how to get students (and teachers) motivated. They have turned to you to assist them.

figure a

Here are the session components at a glance: Engineering Design Context/ Scientific Method Support

Step 1: Define/Wonder

Begin to define the school need and consider the plant experiment through the lens of the case study.

Step 2: Research/Observe

Construct a background framework of the current system by defining different components; including possible constraints, assumptions needed for success, the stakeholders involved (including target audience and other important groups), and the stakeholder needs within the problem. Discuss the framework of the current system with the group, along with possible supports of plant research (like sun vs. shade or soil testing experiment to choose best plant options for the open lot).

Step 3: Brainstorm/Design to Collect

Further develop your solution, first by looking at what was discussed with the group; take examples that fit well from the discussion, and add/modify components to fit your framework. Then define possible solution paths (based on prior art, brainstorming, etc.), compare alternative solution possibilities, and identify information (data) needed from science experiment to support your proposal.

Step 4: Select and Plan/Interpret to Communicate

Choose a best scenario based on identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and assumptions associated with each conceptual solution by using a Pugh Matrix. Identify the top three solutions and create a written narrative to describe your solution, weaving in the results from the plant experiment where appropriate.

Step 5: Create Prototype/Redefine

Once a solution is selected, carry out a pilot test of what that may look like. Share this with the group and discuss.

figure b

Example 9.2: Engineering STEM Solutions Course Supported by the Graphic Design Process- Eco Design Choices Case

Natural Spaces are all around you. We all have natural ecosystems within the spaces around us, however are they being utilized in a way that would benefit us, our students, and other local biodiversity. When thinking of local engineering classroom extensions, here are two very different scenarios to think of how the natural ecosystems within the spaces around us can be re-purposed into a Biophilic Design to promote learning. We will then begin to create the links between content and practices within science and engineering, as presented in the new framework of the National Research Council (2011) to begin to visualize our research in an interdisciplinary context. First we will learn about the case study, and examine possible solutions. Then we will look at our research through the graphic design process to see how this can provide supportive data for the possible solutions.

Schools often are surrounded by potential research areas (like a playground or parking lot), which can support scientific and engineering practices if you take the time to define the experience. By looking at the local habitats, some schools may be able to provide a “natural lab” where students can explore outside the walls of the classroom, and potentially the walls of the school building itself. Here is a school where the campus lab only has an indoor facility available for students to work on short-term projects, and an outside container garden that has been abandoned for the last 2 years. Two teachers at the school started to look beyond their school walls, where they focused on the possibility of a local playground across the street from the school and a garden area within the school parking lot. They have received a small grant to develop a science and engineering curriculum based on biophilic design ($2000), and have the summer to develop the key activities for the school to incorporate specific grade level projects (3–6th grade). The teachers now need to decide what the areas should be used for specific activities, how to get students (and teachers) motivated to use these areas, and how to connect grade level projects to the overarching theme of biolphilic design. The school administration is very interested in this project, and has additional funds to incorporate other areas of the school ($3000), depending on how this project develops. They have turned to you to assist them.

figure c

Here are the session components at a glance:

Step 1: Define/Observe Within a Graphic Design Lens (GDL)

Begin to consider the case study, defining the problem faced, taking the time to work through the graphic design process within this step. Some may work through the entire process here or remain in the observation stage; this is dependent on how the GDL helps in your process.

Step 2: Research/Construction Within a GDL

Construct a background framework of the current system by defining different components; including possible constraints, assumptions needed for success, the stakeholders involved (including target audience and other important groups), and the stakeholder needs within the problem. Discuss the framework of the current system with the group.

Step 3: Brainstorm/Communication Within a GDL

Further develop your solution, first by looking at what was discussed with the group (in both their design and feedback to your proposal); and add/modify components to fit your framework. Then define possible solution paths (based on prior art, brainstorming, etc.), compare alternative solution possibilities, and identify information needed to support your proposal.

Step 4: Select and Plan

Choose a best scenario based on identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and assumptions associated with each conceptual solution by using a Pugh Matrix. Identify the top three solutions and create a written narrative to describe your solution.

Step 5: Prototype to Improve

Create a prototype of the solution selected. Share this with the group and discuss. Then you will test and improve your model, and weave in your results from your experiments where appropriate.

Step 6: Communicate/GDL

Present your proposal to the client.

figure d

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Weber, N., Sansone, K.L. (2016). Language of Design Within Science and Engineering. In: Annetta, L., Minogue, J. (eds) Connecting Science and Engineering Education Practices in Meaningful Ways. Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education, vol 44. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16399-4_9

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