1999, the Research Group at Caltech's Precollege Science Initiative
(CAPSI) in Pasadena, CA has been conducting rigorous research on K-12
science education in the United States. Our unique team of researchers
partners with teachers and scientists to study important issues in K-12
science learning and teaching to improve educational practice and policy.
We are particularly committed to research that helps all children have
access to quality science education in both formal and informal settings.
work explores such issues as the different ways children come to be
interested in and learn about science; the connections among science,
literacy, and technology; how to assess important student learning in
science; how to measure classroom practices; how science may be taught
more effectively; how scientists and schools can form successful partnerships;
and how science reforms can be sustained. Our large- and small-scale
research studies, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation,
are set in a variety of learning environments, from informal learning
on the web to the more formal setting of the typical public school classroom.
Over 20 districts in eight states have participated in our work, and
we are fortunate to have an extensive network of distinguished advisors
and colleagues across the country. Our studies use both quantitative
and qualitative methods to understand the deep complexities of science
teaching and learning.
of Elementary Inquiry Science – In collaboration with
the Education Development Center in Newton, MA, a study of factors that
affect the sustainability of elementary grade science reforms.
Inquiry Science – A study of classroom practices and
student learning in different elementary science education curricula,
including hands-on inquiry and textbook-based programs.
Notebooks —A study of how use of notebooks in elementary inquiry
science classes can enhance student understanding and writing in science,
and how learning to use notebooks affects teachers' classroom practices.
– A study of why adolescent girls are interested in
a science-oriented educational web site, www.whyville.net,
and the opportunities to learn science provided there.
- Is Science
Me? – A longitudinal study of the development of students'
interest in science as a possible college major and career field (particularly
among girls and under-represented minorities) from 7th grade into the
first year of college.
CAPSI Research Group is part of the Caltech Pre-College
Science Initiative (CAPSI), a nonprofit research and development
organization established in the early 1980s through the efforts of two
Caltech professors, Drs. Jerry Pine and Jim Bower. CAPSI has developed
internationally known K-12 inquiry science curricula, professional development
programs for teachers, and a teacher enhancement center to support science
education reforms in many California school districts.
CAPSI Research Group collaborates with Caltech and JPL scientists in
various research and evaluation efforts, including the Center for Neuromorphic
Engineering Systems. We also offer intern positions for students and
recent graduates from Caltech and other local colleges and universities
to learn about science education research through first-hand participation.
have been very fortunate to work with extremely dedicated science educators
in over 22 public school districts around the country as well as generous
advisors from many corporations, universities and other organizations,
including the Aerospace Corporation, Cal State University at Long Beach,
the Children's Center for Learning and Technology, Columbia University,
the Dial Corporation, Horizon Inc., the National Center for Research
on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST), Northwestern,
San Diego State University, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA,
UC Santa Cruz, University of Chicago, University of Georgia, University
of Michigan, and University of Southern California.
science helps children to develop ways of understanding the world around
them. For this they have to build up concepts which help them link their
experiences together; they must learn ways of gaining and organizing
information and of applying and testing ideas. This contributes not
only to children's ability to make better sense of things around them,
but prepares them to deal more effectively with wider decision-making
and problem-solving in their lives. Science is as basic a part of education
as numeracy and literacy; it daily becomes more important as the complexity
of technology increases and touches every part of our lives.
Harlan (ed.), 1985, Primary Science: Taking the Plunge , Oxford:
Heinemann Educational, p.2.)