The Investigations in Transportation program is an elementary school partnership and curriculum development project to engage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals in school-based activities and projects to bring real-world applications to elementary classrooms for grades 3-5. The Portland Metro STEM Partnership (PMSP) provided leadership and facilitation to a team of educators from Portland State University, Beaverton School District and Hillsboro School District who worked with volunteers from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
This report presents a study of a transportation education partnership and curriculum development project that harnessed the professional expertise, experience and enthusiasm of transportation-sector STEM workers by creating a mechanism and set of protocols by which they engaged with elementary school teachers to develop and implement an instructional unit. This STEM-connected instructional unit and lessons allowed students to explore and investigate issues central to transportation. The unit incorporated and enhanced the content and practice standards outlined by the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, and relied heavily on the instructional and curriculum expertise and experience of classroom teachers to develop an age- and interest-appropriate unit of study. This collaboration resulted in the development of an Investigations in Transportation instructional unit that provided students with rich, engaging learning opportunities set in the context of real-world problems around a school parking lot dilemma focused on safety, sustainability and health concerns.
The education project team utilized a coherent and cohesive curriculum development process for unit creation and evaluated the development, implementation and reflection of the unit through teacher and student surveys/assessments of attitudes, identity and conceptual understanding. The report describes the process successes, challenges and replication opportunities.