Science made sensible

Tiffany B. Plantan, Jane Indorf, Rian de Villiers, Michael S. Gaines

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Science Made Sensible (SMS) program, initially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), began in 2007 as a partnership between the University of Miami (UM), Florida, USA and a consortium of public middle schools (grades 6-8) in Miami. The program was developed to address the interrelated problems of scientists' failure to communicate simply, school teachers' lack of grounding in science, and the decline of science and math scores, as well as learner interest in science and math, between the 4th and 12th grade. UM graduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines worked with middle school science teachers to engage learners in science through the use of inquiry-based, hands-on activities. In 2009 the SMS program was exported to South Africa with additional NSF funding. The goals of SMS in South Africa included sharing information about each country's educational system, discussing pedagogical techniques used in the classroom, and developing inquiry-based natural science lesson plans that could be used in both Miami and Pretoria classrooms. Miami middle school science teachers and UM graduate students in STEM worked with science teachers and learners at several middle schools in Pretoria, South Africa. Following completion of NSF funding, the SMS program was institutionalized and has since undergone modification to include undergraduate students. This chapter covers the conception, implementation, assessment, and evolution of SMS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSTEM and Social Justice
Subtitle of host publicationTeaching and Learning in Diverse Settings: A Global Perspective
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319562971
ISBN (Print)9783319562964
StatePublished - Jun 6 2017


  • Formal learning
  • Hands-on learning
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Pedagogy
  • Science education
  • Science Made Sensible
  • Student-centered learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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