At a Nov. 6 press conference at Lowell High School in Lowell, Mass., educators, students, and educational technology advocates announced the launch of the first large-scale study to track student learning over a number of years as they are exposed to technology-based modeling tools in their science courses.

The $7 million “Modeling Across the Curriculum” study is sponsored by the Concord Consortium, a Massachusetts-based education group that creates educational technology tools, particularly modeling applications that strengthen student concepts in math and science.

“In our work we have seen tremendous potential for enhanced learning,” said a Concord Consortium spokesman. “However, more research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach in reaching all learners.”

The project combines funding from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Education, and the National Institutes of Health.

The project is particularly timely in light of recent figures from the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress. That test found only one in five high school seniors has a solid grasp of science, and only about half know even the basics. These figures plummet when it comes to what minority students know. (For the complete test results, go to http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard.)

At the Lowell press conference, students were on hand to demonstrate the use of modeling software, handheld computers, and other tools, while scientists and educators explained how these tools can be used to increase student understanding and appreciation of science and math.

“Schools are under increasing pressure to prepare a diverse population of students for effective citizenship in a complex world,” said the Concord Consortium spokesman. “It is essential that every student develop skills of inquiry and problem solving.”