A comic-based conservation lesson plan diversifies middle school student conceptions of scientists
Keywords:Draw-a-scientist, middle school, biology, place-based learning, scientist stereotypes
Role model interventions that are tied to place based-learning and classroom curricula may be effective tools for promoting diversity in STEM. To evaluate this premise, we developed a sixth-grade lesson plan that focused on teaching environmental conservation and highlighting diverse women in science. Our curricula used a three-touch educational model consisting of comic-based lesson plans, a local “field trip” to Cabrillo National Monument, trading cards featuring 19 diverse women scientists, and a conservation capstone poster presentation - all aligned to Next Generation Science Standards - to create a meaningful experiential and project-based module. To evaluate the program, we used a mixed-methods, change over time model, including the Draw-a-Scientist test (DAST) to assess if student perceptions of scientists were altered from the curricula. Overall, thirty-three students completed the DAST before and after participation, and we found that science stereotypes held by students decreased after participation in the lesson plan. By using innovative tools such as art and comics for science education/outreach that feature characters representing a diverse array of scientists with intersectional identities, educators can help shift student perceptions on who can be a scientist, potentially increasing diversity in scientific fields.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Claire Meaders, Jaye C. Gardiner, Samantha Wynns, Sankalp Nigam, Jillian Harris
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