Developing the Save the Animals STEM Curricula

Christine G. Schnittka


This paper documents the seven-year process of developing four engineering design-based curricula for middle school science teachers to use in formal and informal settings. The process began when the author was a graduate student, and continued when the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the project and the author was a university faculty member. Assessments for each curriculum were developed, and evaluated for reliability and validity. Each curriculum underwent iterative cycles of testing in classrooms and afterschool programs with various age groups. Teachers were taught to use the curricula, and revisions were made after receiving teacher feedback. After data were analyzed, revisions were made again, and curricula were tested in new classrooms. Finally, the curriculum modules were published and made available to teachers across the world at
This process of curriculum design falls into the category of “design experiments” as described by Brown (1992), Collins (1992) and others. Over 200 teachers have been shown how to use the Save the Penguins curriculum. Similarly, over 200 teachers have been taught to use the Save the Sea Birds curriculum. Over 25 teachers have been taught to use the Save the Snails and Save the Ferrets curricula. The curricula have been downloaded in over 11 countries and used in over 30 US states.

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