Thursday 24 November 2022. 11:30am - 12:30pm

Kirsten R. Butchera, Michelle A. Hudsona, Madlyn Larsonb, McKenna Laneb, Susana Velásquez-Francoc, Vanessa J. Baileyc, Matthew P. Orra, Merinda Davisb, Mitchell J. Powerc

Learning science practices via online research: investigations with digitised specimens

Contact Author: Kirsten R. Butcher (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

aDepartment of Educational Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City UT 84112, USA

bNatural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City UT 84108, USA

cDepartment of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City UT 84112, USA


The use of science practices—including asking questions, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, making evidence-based arguments, and communicating with others (NGSS, 2014)—is a core dimension of science education. However, young students have infrequent opportunities to engage in research that facilitates direct application of some (let alone all) of these practices. Further, existing opportunities often are decontextualized and lack direct experience with objects (Dierking, 2002), making it difficult for learners to understand data and conclusions.

Our work has focused on the development and evaluation of an innovative resource for science education: EPIC Bioscience. EPIC Bioscience is a suite of free, online, fully-supported research investigations designed for middle school learners. EPIC investigations focus students on authentic questions related to pressing global issues (e.g., climate change), are aligned to NGSS standards, and utilize digitized specimens from natural history collections (see Figure 1) as the basis for students to collect and analyze data, develop evidence-based arguments, and communicate conclusions. Investigations are structured but open-ended—students choose an investigation path, collect their own data, and develop their own (data-driven) conclusions.