Mineral Resources in Mobile Phones: A Case Study of Boston and Vienna Teachers and Students
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As part of an outreach initiative by the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, an interdisciplinary educational module was developed to teach students about sustainability through the lens of mineral resources used to produce mobile phones. The overall goal of the module is to provide teachers of different subjects with a multifaceted tool to include sustainability in their classrooms and create greater awareness of our resource-rich lifestyle. The evaluation of efficacy and impact of the module in formal classroom environments is facilitated through two case studies: an assessment of teacher experiences across Austria with our teaching kit, and an assessment of student learning in Austria and the U.S. During the development of the teaching module in Austria, workshops with 97 teachers were conducted to identify educators' needs and offer an interdisciplinary usable teaching kit. The study showed that teachers greatly appreciated the hands-on workshops and implemented the module in their curriculum. For the student study, 416 students from Vienna, Austria, (209 students) and the Greater Boston area in the U.S. (207 students) were taught the same module by the same instructor. Student performance and learning impact were assessed using pre and post questionnaires. For the Austrian students, an additional long-term post questionnaire was completed six months after the intervention. Students' short-term performances increased significantly immediately after the module. This paper describes the outreach project and our teaching module, and proposes the development of curriculum extensions and teacher professional development for implementing interdisciplinary science concepts.