WWC review of this study

Study of Physical Science and Engineering Invention Kit Curriculum for Middle School: External Evaluation of the Investing in Innovation Central Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Development Grant 78. Making Research Relevant

LiCalsi, Christina; Reese, Kelly; Garcia-Piriz, Dionisio (2019). American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED611398

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grades

Reviewed: December 2021

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Physical sciences outcomes—Substantively important positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Assessment of physical science and engineering knowledge (researcher-developed)

Physical Science and Engineering Invention Kit Curriculum for Middle School vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
419 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 8% English language learners

  • Female: 49%
    Male: 51%
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  • Race
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  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


Seven middle schools from the Virginia districts of Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, and Fluvanna County participated in the impact study. Four schools from these three districts agreed to use the invention kits during the 2017–18 school year and composed the treatment group. All students from treatment schools enrolled in both engineering (elective course) and physical science (required course) participated in the intervention. An additional three schools from Albemarle County were selected by the districts to be part of the comparison group given their regional location and their overall similarities in demographic composition with treatment schools.

Study sample

On average, study schools were 49% female, 15% Black, 12% Hispanic, 63% white, 10% other race/ethnicity, 8% English learners, 13% students with disabilities, and 34% economically disadvantaged.

Intervention Group

The Physical Science and Engineering Invention Kit Curriculum for Middle School project teaches key science and engineering principles and related skills to middle school students through constructing modern interpretations of past great inventions. The intention of the kits is that as students analyze the historical context and cultural significance of the inventions, they are inspired by the power of new ideas within science and engineering to transform human life. By creating an entry-point of understanding for students through a series of science and engineering invention kits, students will gain experience that will allow them to build their technical knowledge of the science and engineering principles demonstrated by the fundamental inventions. With greater technical knowledge and interest in engineering and science, students will perform better on assessments of their engineering and science skills, retain fundamental science knowledge and skills, have more confidence in their learning abilities, and be more likely to pursue advanced careers in science, engineering and math.

Comparison Group

Schools in the comparison condition implemented business as usual engineering curriculum. Comparison students were likely exposed to instruction and support services as they had been in the past.

Support for implementation

Teachers in the intervention received the kits including lab, activity, and challenge instructions, electronic computer-aided design files and instructions, and teacher guides.


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