Investigations in Transportation

Carol BiskupicKnight, Portland State University



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.


We anticipate that there will be measurable impact on both student and teacher outcomes.
The following Student Outcomes will show an increase in:					
A. Motivational resilience. Students will demonstrate high quality participation in academic work, including hard work, resilience, enthusiasm, and curiosity through their experiences with the transportation context and by working with transportation professionals.				
B. Application of Conceptual Knowledge. Students know how to apply math conceptual knowledge to solve problems, including scientific inquiry and engineering design.  The unit focus on deep understanding and application of conceptual knowledge is key to student success in STEM. By applying math and science concepts in the real world transportation dilemma application, there will be a deeper and longer lasting understanding of STEM content. 
The grant also anticipates impact on Educator Outcomes through collaborative unit planning with transportation professionals and university faculty, through both curriculum development and research and assessment practices.
A. Effective Instructional Practices.
1) Teacher will emphasize deep content knowledge and higher order cognitive skills by addressing learning goals in these areas 
2) Teachers will create and implement multiple and diverse opportunities for students to develop conceptual knowledge and cognitive skills 
B. Pedagogical Content Knowledge.
1)  Teachers’ understanding and use of the effective strategies for specific STEM topics including strategies to engage students in inquiry, represent STEM phenomena, and guide discourse about the STEM topic.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
June 30,2016
UTC Grant Cycle:
Tier 1 Round 2
UTC Funding: