A Culturally Relevant Collab with NGSS and Chemistry

title: culturally relevant collab ngss and chemistry and headshot of Dr. Charles Drew

In 2009, I embarked on my Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) journey to teach experimental design to my International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Chemistry students.1 Experimental design was new to me because I did not experience designing and executing my own experiments in my science education journey, so I grappled with variables and the control group to design experiments with my students.

When the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released several years later, some Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) lined up with the Science Writing Heuristic. I then used the SWH and NGSS SEPs to help my students gain the confidence they needed to design and execute their experiments successfully. The COVID-19 pandemic, the racial justice protests, and remote teaching and learning pushed me to explore ways to make my chemistry units culturally relevant for my students. Here, I want to share how I went from an NGSS-aligned chemistry unit plan to creating the ultimate collaboration~cultural relevance.

I selected the Performance Expectation HS-PS1-3 Plan (see figure 1) and investigated to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles (Patterns).

Figure 1: NGSS HS-PS1-3 Science Standard 

 

The SWH was used as a framework to allow students to plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence. To visualize the submicroscopic level evidence to understand what is occurring at the macroscopic level, we used The Connected Chemistry Curriculum simulations. I used density as the bulk property since it's taught in most chemistry courses. For several years, my colleagues and I foregrounded Archimedes Eureka's story to comprehend and construct macroscopic models of his experimental design to explore density and buoyancy. We also did the traditional element cubes buoyancy in tap water lab. We used Diet Coke and Coca-Cola cans and why people only float in the Dead Sea as our anchoring phenomena, as seen in our American Chemical Society journal article Using the Science Writing Heuristic to Support NGSS-Aligned Instruction.2

To make the unit more culturally relevant, I performed a Google search using density as a key term. Several Google searches later, I found detailed information about Dr. Charles R. Drew's research on blood preservation using density from the American Chemical Society article Richard Drew “Father of the Blood Bank” June 3, 1904 – April 1, 1950, Renowned surgeon and pioneer in the preservation of life-saving blood plasma3, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture4, and other websites5-7. I put the resources I found together in the Charles Drew poster to share with parents, students, and the school community. As a chemistry team, we decided it was essential to watch a documentary about Dr. Charles R. Drew's life, discuss race and racism with our students, and write class expectations. We were shocked that his scientific accomplishments weren't in our chemistry textbooks or posted where we donated blood. We stopped here the first year and made Dr. Drew's scientific research and life experiences an ancillary addition to our chemistry unit.

Last school year, we did it; we let go of Archimedes Eureka's story from 200 B.C. Students are now reading and discussing the variables that affect the shelf life of whole blood and constructing macroscopic models of Dr. Drew's experimental design from the 1940s to understand how he used density to separate whole blood using a centrifuge. Dr. Charles R. Drew's Blood Chemistry Lesson gives students a culturally relevant way to learn about density. See the Supporting Information for a copy. 

Creating, promoting, and encouraging teachers to integrate authentically culturally relevant lessons/unit plans is salient to make teaching and learning environments equitable for all students.  

I shared Dr. Drew's blood preservation lesson with other stakeholders at my school. The conversation expanded the chemistry class to a whole school teaching and learning event for me, my students, and the school community. Dr. Drew's bloodmobiles were a treatment for Sickle Cell Disease, which impacts Black Americans disproportionately. As a school community, we planned and had the Dr. Charles Drew & Sickle Cell Anemia Blood Drive with the Red Cross to educate the school community about Dr. Charles R. Drew's scientific contributions and to be a part of the Red Cross's Sickle Cell Disease National Initiative to increase Black blood donors to help patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Centering Dr. Charles R. Drew's scientific contributions in our chemistry lessons led to the ultimate culturally relevant collab with NGSS and chemistry. Creating, promoting, and encouraging teachers to integrate authentically culturally relevant lessons/unit plans is salient to make teaching and learning environments equitable for all students.   

See the Supporting Information for a copy of the activity!

Reference List

  1. Hike, N & Beck-Winchatz, B. (2015). Near-Space Science: A Ballooning Project to Engage Students with Space beyond the Big Screen. Science Teacher, 82(1) p29-36. DOI:10.2505/4/tst15_082_01_29 
  2. Hike, N. & Hughes-Phelan, S.J. (2020). Using the Science Writing Heuristic to Support NGSS-Aligned Instruction. Journal of Chemical Education,97(2), 358-367. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.9b00472
  3. Charles Richard Drew. American Chemical Society. (n.d.). https://www.acs.org/education/whatischemistry/african-americans-in-scien... 
  4. Our American Story - The Color of Blood, National Museum of African American History & Culture, https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/color-blood (accessed 11/29/2023).
  5. Bibel, B. (2020, June 20). Charles Drew - the “father of the Blood Bank” - for him we have a lot to thank! The Bumbling Biochemist. https://thebumblingbiochemist.com/365-days-of-science/charles-drew-the-f... 
  6. Bibel , B. (2020, July 4). Racial segregation of blood in the United States & the true patriots who put an end to it. The Bumbling Biochemist. https://thebumblingbiochemist.com/365-days-of-science/racial-segregation... 
  7. National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Becoming “the father of the Blood Bank,” 1938-1941 | Charles R. Drew - profiles in Science. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/spotlight/bg/feature/blood 

 

Preview & cover image: By Associated Photographic Services, Inc - National Library of Medicine: http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/ResourceMetadata/BGBBCT: Year supplied: ca. 1949 Original Repository: Howard University. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. Charles R. Drew Papers, PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47837720

 

Concepts: 

NGSS

Students who demonstrate understanding can plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.

*More information about all DCI for HS-PS1 can be found at https://www.nextgenscience.org/dci-arrangement/hs-ps1-matter-and-its-interactions and further resources at https://www.nextgenscience.org.

Summary:

Students who demonstrate understanding can plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles. 

Assessment Boundary:

Assessment does not include Raoult’s law calculations of vapor pressure.

Clarification:

Emphasis is on understanding the strengths of forces between particles, not on naming specific intermolecular forces (such as dipole-dipole). Examples of particles could include ions, atoms, molecules, and networked materials (such as graphite). Examples of bulk properties of substances could include the melting point and boiling point, vapor pressure, and surface tension.