Colorado Jr Scientists League

University of Colorado, STOMP Program

Educational Activities and Resources


The evaluation and analysis includes Salient Results, Content Assessment, Nature of Science Survey, and Reflections from the educators.


Salient Results

● These students are capable of engaging for long periods of time (3 hrs) on science projects in enthusiastic ways

● The students made tremendous progress (which has been documented) on developing a particulate model of matter, the phases of matter and the causes of phase transitions.  (These are notoriously difficult ideas)

● We suspect the students developed a more robust understanding of science, what it means to do science and whether they are interested in future work as a scientist (this too has been documented).

● The students spent the bulk of the 3rd day (2.5+ hrs) working on SAM videos to make movies about matter, states of matter, and phase transitions of matter.  The students were remarkably eager -- this was one of their favorite activities of camp (another being playing with the PhET simulations).

● The videos themselves were reported to be most impressive, where students made LONG videos of several minutes after planning/pitching, story boarding, designing, and implementing their videos.  The ideas were quite sophisticated and varied from drawn animation, to student actors playing molecules or states of matter.

● Unfortunately 6 of the 8 videos neither saved nor exported to quicktime.  A bug in this version of SAM Lite (no doubt a platform issue, but we only have PC laptops in abundance).  We were able to rescue the other two movies.

● Impressively, the students were pretty accepting of the computer failures and focussed on the excitement of making and producing their own movies -- which they got to watch at least.

back to top


Content Assessment

Our pre/post assessment analysis is an Excel document containing the data from the 17 students that took both the pre and post assessments. There were many students that only took one or the other but we did not include their data in our analysis. The students are referred to as "Student A", "Student B", etc. rather than by name. Our conclusions from that data analysis are also included in this document.

Here are some of the results:

● Our pre and post assessments could have been more clearly linked with the overall curriculum of the summer camp.

● Creating a rubric for gauging learning shifts after the summer camp proved to be somewhat difficult. One suggestion for future camps is to prepare an assessment rubric in conjunction with creating the pre/post assessment, curriculum, and learning goals. All of these things need to match up to ensure that the assessment is actually assessing what the students learn from the curriculum.

● All 17 students had a positive shift in at least one category on this rubric.

● Out of the 17 total students, only 6 students had negative shifts in any one category on this rubric.

● Two students showed a positive shift in depicting particle motion. This was not explicitly asked for on the worksheet. However, we decided to document the change. This may be due to the PhET activity.

● Using the representation of the magnifying glass seemed to be a barrier for students. This may be due to the fact that some students may have used a magnifying glass before and had experience with how much it can "zoom in".

● There were quite a few students that did not draw their objects at the bottom of the container. This was most prevalent in the drawings of solids. This may be due to the fact that they are used to drawing in boxes in school or that they just did not take gravity into consideration.

● There is a pretty clear trend that the students had higher shifts when depicting gas in the pre/ post assessment. This could be closely linked to the PhET activity that explicitly depicted the gas particles and demonstrated their behavior, or the fact that more of the activities focused on the properties of gases.

● One factor that should be considered when evaluating the pre/post assessments is the environments in which they were given. The pre-test was given in the classroom at the very beginning and the post-test was given at CU on the field trip day.

● Another factor that could be considered when evaluating the pre/post assessments is the differences in the presentation of the curriculum given in the two different classrooms from the two different instructors. We did not separate the two classes in our analysis.

● It is also important to realize that this is a very small sample of the students work. Only those students that turned in both a pre and post assessment are included in this analysis. Not all the students were present for all activities. We have many pre-tests from students that did not take the post-test as well as many post test from students that did not take the pre-test.

● We covered multiple weeks worth of material in just three days which may be why we did not see a deeper understanding of the particle nature of matter, along with the fact that we did not gear all of the curriculum directly to that concept.

● It is important to note that we used only one tool for assessing student ideas. Therefore we cannot say very much about the robustness of the students' conceptions and this most likely affects to some extent the positive and negative learning gains.

back to top


Nature of Science Survey

Here is our analysis of the Nature of Science survey given at the beginning of the camp and at the end.





back to top


Reflections from the Educators

Here are the reflections from the Undergraduate Prospective Teachers.

Turhan Carroll:

"Coming into this camp, I did not really know what to expect, I was excited to have the opportunity to participate. It was my first time ever teaching, so I was a little nervous about whether or not I would be able to teach the students anything. I was also a little concerned about getting the class’ attention, after we met with the IHAD faculty and heard their horror stories. When we got there, however, all the nervousness and apprehension went away, and for four days I had about as much fun as I ever had doing anything. This was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. Just being able to develop relationships with the students, and have fun with them reiterated my desire to become a teacher. Student behavior got out of hand at times, but I found that as long as I was firm, fair, and treated the students with respect they had no problem listening to me. But perhaps the most amazing thing about the whole experience was how much the students learned. I knew I was teaching, but it was hard to gauge how effectively I was doing so. I did not know if I was teaching over the students’ heads, or if they really were learning what I thought they were. But they learned so much! That was one of the most rewarding parts of the whole experience. Probably the most enriching part of the whole camp was coming up with assignments. I learned so much about how much work goes into developing lessons; there are just so many factors to consider. You think that because something is obvious to you it will be to someone else also, is simply not true. I think this experience was really fun and eye-opening, and I think it would be a great thing for anyone who is interested in going into the education field. It would be a great way for them to get some experience."


Emily Quinty:

"Being given the opportunity to have an influential role in the curriculum development and to be a lead instructor for the summer camp was the most valuable experience I have had as a future secondary science teacher. I have known that I want to become a science teacher for a few years now, but I was craving a teaching experience that would allow me to actually have the role as teacher so that I could be certain that this is the career I want to pursue. This summer camp was exactly that. I was given the freedom to explore the teaching methods and tools that interested me—inquiry and the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). This empowering leeway allowed me to truly grow as an educator, develop my teaching philosophy, and learn to adapt to the classroom environment. I was also an integral component of the data analysis. This gave me the chance to see a glimpse into what science education researchers examine and what they are able to learn about student understanding.

"The combination of participating in the development, instruction, feedback and analysis phases of a science summer camp is an invaluable opportunity that should be extended to all prospective secondary science teachers from CU Boulder. It is rare that science teachers have the chance to have a leading role in these aspects of education prior to becoming teachers. This experience would give them, as it has me, a deeper understanding of what it means to teach science."

back to top


2006 CU@Boulder PER@C For information contact C.Turpen or N. Finkelstein