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Introduction to the 5-Es Learning Cycle

This model for teaching outlines a teaching sequence that can be used for entire programs, specific units, and individual lessons. SpaceMath@NASA supports using the 5E constructivist learning cycle as you plan and implement the resources within these modules. What are the 5Es? The 5Es represent five stages of a sequence for teaching and learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend (or Elaborate), and Evaluate.

ENGAGE: The purpose for the ENGAGE stage is to peak student interest and get them personally involved in the lesson, while pre-assessing prior understanding. During this experience, students first encounter and identify the instructional task or topic. During the ENGAGE stage, students make connections between past and present learning experiences, setting the organizational groundwork for upcoming activities.

The NASA eClips™ video segments or NASA Press Releases could be used to ENGAGE students. Through discussions, NASA eClips™ and the NASA Press Releases spark interest in the topic and uncover students' prior understanding. The video format arouses students' curiosity and encourages them to ask their own questions.

EXPLORE: The purpose for the EXPLORE stage is to get students involved in the topic; providing them with a chance to build their own understanding. In the EXPLORATION stage the students have the opportunity to build their own understanding of essential content. Working independently, or in teams, students build a common framework. The teacher acts as a facilitator, providing materials and guiding the students' focus.

SpaceMath@NASA problems help students EXPLORE essential mathematical concepts. Problems 1 and 2 are scaffolded to build conceptual understanding.

EXPLAIN: The purpose for the EXPLAIN stage is to provide students with an opportunity to communicate what they have learned so far and figure out what it means. EXPLAIN is the stage at which learners begin to communicate what they have learned. Language provides motivation for sequencing events into a logical format. Communication occurs between peers, with the facilitator, and through the reflective process.

Once students build their own understanding, the SpaceMath@NASA's -- Write a Problem helps students summarize or EXPLAIN their own ideas.

EXTEND: The purpose for the EXTEND stage is to allow students to use their new knowledge and continue to explore its implications. At this stage students expand on the concepts they have learned, make connections to other related concepts, and apply their understandings to the world around them in new ways.

The NASA/JPL 3-Dimensional, online solar system simulator Eyes on the Solar System helps students EXTEND and apply what they learned to new and unfamiliar situations. By manipulating mathematical models of the solar system they explore the trajectories of spacecraft and make measurements to collect data for answering specific quetsions, or conducting their own inquiry-based research.

EVALUATE: The purpose for the EVALUATION stage is for both students and teachers to determine how much learning and understanding has taken place. EVALUATE, the final "E", is an on-going diagnostic process that allows the teacher to determine if the learner has attained understanding of concepts and knowledge. Evaluation and assessment can occur at all points along the continuum of the instructional process.

SpaceMath@NASA - Critical Thinking and Challenge Problems help students demonstrate their understanding of the introduced concepts.


Who developed the 5E model?
The Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS), a team led by Principal Investigator Roger Bybee, developed the instructional model for constructivism, called the "5Es." Other models have been adapted from this model, including the 6E and 7E models.

What is constructivism?
Constructivism is a philosophy about learning that proposes learners need to build their own understanding of new ideas. Two of the most prominent constructivist researchers are: Jean Piaget (Stages of Cognitive Development) and Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences).