GK-12: Collaborative inquiry in k-12 classrooms, 1999-2005

The development of critical scientific literacy in primary and secondary school  classrooms (AAAS, 1993) requires authentic inquiry (NRC, 2000) with a basis in the real world. Pairing scientists with educators, and employing informatics and visualization tools, is a possible way to achieve it.

This approach was employed over ten years across Illinois chemistry, physics, biology, social studies, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and environmental studies classrooms through the NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program (Jakobsson & Braatz, 2000; Raineri & Bievenue, 2005).

Evaluation  reveals strategies for successful—and significant—informatics and visualization technology integration with demonstrable impact on science learners. Some specific findings:

  • Collaboration within teams composed of students and faculty in both schools and the university  influences the degree of sustainable and transformative change in the classroom;
  • Meaningful inquiry is reported by teachers, scientists, and students when they feel supported by their institutions;
  • Information and communication technologies have long-term impact when they are utilized for authentic problem solving, creating engagement experiences for students as well as teachers, e.g., Biology Workbench, Stella™,  Mathematica™, visualizations created using participatory design, and digital history archives;
  • Sustainability and scalability have been achieved at and between those institutions where teaming, tools, and inquiry are allowed to develop.


  • AAAS  (1993). Benchmarks for Science Literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • National Research Council (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards:  A guide for teaching and learning. National Academy Press: Washington, D.C.
  • Jakobsson, E., & Braatz, R. (2000). GK-12 EdGrid Graduate Teaching Fellowship Program. Proposal to National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program Solicitation (NSF 02-042). Renewal GK-12 Track 2
  • Raineri, D. & Bievenue, L. (2005).

See GK-12 publications in IDEALS.

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