The Curiosity Creek project is designed to serve two child audiences with different yet overlapping goals related to inquiry and imagination. The broad goals are stated in terms of what the project as a whole has the potential to accomplish when the Parent and Educator resources including lesson plans and activities are implemented in conjunction with the offerings of the children's section of the site. Specific learning objectives are articulated in individual lesson plans.
Pre-K - 3rd graders will:
Enjoy exploring their environment and solving their own curiosity questions.
Acquire preliminary 21st Century Skills to use in the process of inquiry (e.g., information, visual, digital, and traditional literacies and critical thinking).
Demonstrate a greater awareness and appreciation of their role in protecting the environment.
Demonstrate increased interest in science/nature and the environment.
Show imagination, creativity and inventive thinking about science/nature and the environment.
Share their knowledge and the creative products of inquiry in a productive and socially responsible manner (e.g., through their story puzzles, poetry puzzles, and creative posters. Indicate confidence and satisfaction in their accomplishments.
Effective motivational design strategies for learning include peer tutoring and teaching someone younger or less experienced. Curiosity Creek provides an outlet for students in middle school as they have an opportunity to creatively share some of what they have learned with their younger counterparts. This helps to reinforce learning for the older child and promotes confidence. It may also be a way to build confidence and reinforce skills in struggling readers and writers as they research a topic in a problem-based scenario and prepare creative research products that will engage younger children. Many of the children's products will have the opportunity of being published on the Curiosity Creek site and parents and educators are encouraged to submit children's products for them. It is encouraged that educators who wish to provide this publication opportunity contact us prior to the project so that we may be most helpful towards its implementation.
The goals for middle school students in grades 4, 5 and 6 could be realized through an after-school club in which students research environmental themes and develop products to share with young children.
Middle school students will:
Experience sustained engagement and enjoyment in exploring for and sharing science-related knowledge leading to deeper interest and a love of learning.
Gain or reinforce confidence in their abilities to follow an inquiry-based process for seeking science and environmental information (e.g., formulating questions, finding sources, evaluating information, etc.).
Practice creativity and inventive-thinking skills.
Conceive, research and develop creative science and environmental information products that consider the needs and interests of younger learners.
Organize their knowledge so that it will be useful to younger learners.
Effectively and responsibly use technology tools for data gathering and creating research artifacts and final products.
Share their knowledge by contributing to resources made available to younger children (ie., prepare engaging materials for showcasing on Curiosity Creek)
Increase collaboration skills by utilizing collaboration tools with their peers or team members to exhange ideas and brainstorm solutions to problems.
Monitor and reflect on their own inquiry and creation process to assess strengths and weaknesses.
Increase their ability to provide useful peer assessment and feedback in respectful manner.
Learning objectives for lesson plans on Curiosity Creek generally relate to more than one of the broad goals of the Curiosity Creek project. This is because facilitating the development of inquiry skills in young learners (Goal #1) will be presented in the context of science/nature and the environment (Goal #3) but may also connect with other subject areas such as language/literacy, music, or an art activity. For example, a research project involving organizing information (a 21st century skill represented in Goal #2) on protecting marine life (Goal #3--nature/environment) may include preparing a nonfiction mini-book (language/literacy connection) or the creation of a song featuring learned material (music connection). Both lesson plans and learning activities will denote individual skills addressed but only lesson plans will provide complete information about learning objectives and related standards.
A key to exciting young children about information seeking is connecting to ideas and topics for which they have a personal interest, and providing opportunities to use information skills in situations which provide choice. This is especially important in making the most of informal learning opportunities such as those offered by Curiosity Creek.