Phase 2

Changing the Community Through the Eyes of Young Scientist

I am a middle school science teacher. I will implement this project with 7th grade (life science) and 8th grade (physical science) students. My students live in the heart of the Englewood community in Chicago, IL., where 97% of the population are African American students.  This is a Title I school where over 95% of the students receive either free or reduced lunch. This will be a year long project that I will implement where my students will work on this project every quarter for 5 weeks at the end of each quarter during our one hour period.  During this time students will have time to plan, create, and implement their projects.  This year, our school will partner with the Museum of Science and Industry to coordinate STEM across grade levels. I will lead the efforts to establish science across grade levels and throughout all subject areas to improve STEM education, which my ImagineIT project directly relates to this initiative.

Big Idea


This project will push my students to intertwine science and engineering by:

  • Using the engineering design cycle to address problems in the community;
  • Seeing the world around them through the eyes of scientists to make environmentally wise choices;
  • Solve problems by thinking critically and purposefully;
  • Make environmentally wise choices


Students should learn the influence of engineering, technology, and science on society and the natural world according to the Next Generation Science Standards. Looking at the community through the eyes of scientists and engineers, I feel will help students become more aware of their actions and the consequences of their actions on society and the natural world. By becoming more aware of these concepts, my students should be able to take what they have learned through science and transfer this knowledge to helping to solve the problems they are faced with on a daily basis in their community.

My students will create a video on the problems they see in the community and give suggestions on how they can solve these problems, for example: potholes, lack of fresh food stores, vacant lots, and abandoned buildings. I also want my students to start seeing the world through the eyes of a scientist, so I want them to see science all around them. Students will start to journal their experience as a scientist via video and/or photos by looking for things that they see as a problem in the community and bring these ideas back to their classmates to compare, discuss, and start to address.  They will be challenged to bring in content that we are learning in science and applying this content knowledge to address things that they see as problems in the community for example vacant lots filled with litter and debris or potholes that are forming sinkholes. Students will work in small groups to address the problems as agreed upon as a class one by one. They will use 5 weeks at the end of each quarter to work on a problem and design a solution for that problem, for example: contacting the Alderwoman and Mayor to maybe create works of art on abandoned buildings, filling vacant lots with community gardens, and designing some type of system that alerts police that a crime is taking place.  Time may be an issue to address more than one problem over the school year so this will be discussed with students in the beginning of this project so that they are aware of this matter and will not be disappointed if their problem did not get solved.  It is my hope as a teacher to start addressing small problems together so that students can start to use what they are learning in science to start to solve what they see as a problem in their community individually outside of science class.

The Knowledge

The main goal of this project is for students to approach the world with a scientific eye. I want them to not only see science around them but to see how their actions could help change their outlook on their community so I want them to become more environmentally aware. I want them to address the problems that they are faced with on a daily basis and see how using science and engineering can make a change to finding solutions to address scientific problems. I want them to come to the realization that through using science and engineering they can make a major impact on society and the real world!

Pedagogical Approach

I will help to facilitate my students learning by working alongside them to guide them in the beginning and then scaffolding them and stepping in if needed so this project will use a student-centered approach. They will work in small groups discussing, creating, researching, and designing solutions to the problems they are faced with in the community so they will use the engineering design cycle as well. They will take a hands on approach because they will get involved in the community by talking to political officials, their parents, and experts in the field.  They will do research and become activists.  Students will create posters using google docs to show how individual actions can either help or harm our planet.  They will create short films using movie software like iMovie and Windows movie maker to document their progress on a daily basis of how they are approaching and solving scientific problems. They will use science and intertwine that with engineering to create solutions. My students will then showcase their learning by presenting their findings, and creations to the community via their movie presentations that they have documented their project from beginning to end.

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