The development of InterActions in Physical Science was funded in part by National Science Foundation grants as well as San Diego State University and informed by the latest research from the cognitive and learning sciences. The InterActions curriculum was written, tested in the classroom, evaluated by a nationally recognized independent evaluation team, rewritten, and retested.
Although InterActions is not project based, it was designed with what interests and excites students about science in mind. If students are motivated to learn, they will develop a deeper and longer-lasting understanding of science content and practices. InterActions was also developed with an understanding of the need for providing scaffolding support for students as they learn challenging ideas and skills. If there is too much scaffolding, students will not be challenged, while too little scaffolding will leave students frustrated. Both extremes result in loss of interest. The InterActions curriculum appropriately scaffolds skills by initially providing extensive support and then gradually reducing this support in subsequent activities.
In InterActions, students develop target ideas via active learning experiences, completing hands-on experiments and computer-based simulations. These learning experiences are embedded in a set of carefully structured activities. The InterActions pedagogy is based on three major factors that influence learning: students’ prior knowledge, social interaction between students, and scaffolding of increasingly sophisticated ideas and skills. The questions and activities in InterActions challenge and/or build on common initial ideas, as students are guided in the development of specific science concepts and practices. In InterActions, as in science, social interactions play a fundamental role in the development of knowledge. Students are constantly encouraged to actively discuss their ideas with others.
Kit components are specifically designed to be used with activities in InterActions. For example, the It's About Time® Wooden Air Puck is an item that was uniquely configured by It’s About Time® for the InterActions Forces chapter. InterActions videos are available to use when experiments cannot be easily conducted in a middle school classroom. Also, the InterActions Simulators support modeling of physical processes, allow students to examine relationships between variables in ways not easily duplicated in labs, and provide visualizations for abstract concepts. A public website is available to make information about the program available for parents and administrators. As well, the InterActions Kids website is a fun and useful site for students.
It’s About Time® is committed to providing comprehensive, ongoing professional-development support services for districts or schools implementing InterActions in Physical Science. Our highly experienced implementation specialists will lead workshops to get you started with teaching InterActions, follow-up sessions that provide additional content and pedagogical support, as well as online and onsite mentoring. The InterActions online Teacher Resource website is an extensive hyperlinked Internet resource that contains all of the information in the Teacher’s Edition plus additional information, including videos of how to set up many of the InterActions experiments. Developed in collaboration with many middle school teachers, the website is easy to navigate and provides a rich ancillary source of information.