Project FOREM

Forefronts Of Research Educational Modules

Project FOREM is an NSF-funded outreach program that aims to engage the natural curiosity of high school students and inspire their imagination. To this end, FOREM's goal is to make available to students subjects of current research interest at the forefront of our knowledge. We have set out on a course to achieve this goal by developing short educational modules that bring the forefronts of research to high school physics in a way that emphasizes the actual practices of science and inquiry.

The modules will utilize guided inquiry activities, integrated with labs and new technologies. Each module starts with a carefully chosen set of questions and problems ("challenges") and follows an interactive exchange to allow the relevant knowledge to be constructed by students. In this process, students learn not only how to answer fact-based questions but also how to approach a challenge and move toward a solution.

This process inevitably starts with the students' prior knowledge; that is, their preconceptions and misconceptions. It will attempt to improve these conceptions through observation, conjecture, criticism and communication and eventually build up the intended conceptual framwork. The teacher's role is to guide this process, shape the activities, and provide opportunities for formative assessment. The following diagram illustrates the process.

FOREM Active Learning Structure

The inquiry process. Top: classroom interactions among students, teacher, and the underlying reality. Each part has a color signifying the source of the content, and a shape (except Reality) signifying the agents shapring the format of the content. These colors and shapes can mix. Kt and Ks show, respectively, the teacher's and the student's knowledge of the conceptual framework underlying reality. The goal of the module is to create Ks. Bottom: schematic module structure. The source of content in each stage of the scheme is color coded and the format is shown by the shape. Single arrows show the order of stages and double arrows show concurrent stages. Mixed colors (blue-green and red-green) mean mixed sources (reality-student and teacher-student) and a mixed shape (rounded square) means the format is set by more than one role (teacher-student). It can easily be seen that students (green) make a large contribution to the content and the teacher (oval) mostly sets the tone and format. There are also many cases of cross-interaction.

Module Repository

Light-Emitting Diodes