Curriculum » Excerpts

Excerpts from the River City Curriculum

Laboratory Notebook

The Laboratory Notebook is the primary resource students use to navigate the River City curriculum.

Class Preparation Videos

The Research Team has prepared a series of videos to model one way to introduce the project to students before they teleport to a River City season. Note: to view this video, you will need the newest version of QuickTime.

Formative Assessments

Throughout the River City Curriculum, students interact with Kent Brock, an investigative reporter for The River City Telegraph, a newspaper in River City. He is covering the increasing sickness in River City and is excited to have 21st century students as his informants. Throughout the curriculum, he interviews students and not only asks them information but tells them information. Kent is a variation of the "wise fool." As a good reporter, Kent is interested in more than just the facts. In addition, he is interested in student's ability to provide (based on Wiggins & McTighe, 2005):

Besides answering Kent's questions, students critique and review his articles before they go to press at the River City Telegraph.

Summative Assessments

All students demonstrate their understanding of scientific inquiry and disease transmission by independently writing evidence-based, scientific reports to the Mayor of River City. Their reports include explanations of why so many residents are becoming ill and recommendations of how to alleviate the problem by drawing on their River City experiences.

The Report to the Mayor is not a trivial, academic assignment. On the contrary, it is purposefully designed to gauge the student's understanding and to ask students to do something that puts their understanding to work. As a result of this performance assessment, students both demonstrate and deepen their understanding of this complex socioscientific situation.


Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (Expanded 2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 9980464, 0296001, 0202543, 0310188, and 0532446. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.