NiCE Teacher Workshop: Engaging K-12 Teachers in the Development of Curricular Materials That Utilize Complex Networks Concepts

  • Emma Towlson
  • Lori Sheetz
  • Ralucca Gera
  • Jon Roginski
  • Catherine Cramer
  • Stephen Uzzo


Our educational systems must prepare students for an increasingly complex and interconnected future, but teachers facing this task are not equipped to prepare students to succeed. Network science–the study of how biological, social, physical and technological systems interconnect, how the structure of those connections evolve over time, and how those structures and behaviors inform our understanding of them–is a pathway to deepening engagement with the kinds of complex problems these students will have to deal with as adults in the workforce. We recently held the Networks in Classroom Education (NiCE) workshop for a group of 21 K-12 teachers with various disciplinary backgrounds. The explicit aim of the workshop was to introduce them to concepts in network science, show them how these concepts can be utilized in the classroom, and empower them to develop resources using these concepts, in the form of lesson plans, for themselves and for the wider community. Here we detail the nature of the workshop and present its outcomes, including a set of publicly available innovative lesson plans. We also discuss the future development of the successful integration of network science in K-12 education and its importance in inspiring and enabling our teachers.
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