What is ESCAPE?
The Equitable Science Curriculum integrating Arts in Public Education (ESCAPE) Program is an innovative multi-year National Science Foundation-funded teacher professional development program with a rigorous research component developed by the University of California, Irvine in partnership with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Orange County School Districts, and the Orange County Department of Education. The program trains teachers for the Next Generation Science Standards through the integration of scientific inquiry methods with the highly motivating and accessible visual and performing arts (VAPA) methods.
Goals of the ESCAPE Program
Employing inquiry, creative movement, and visual arts, the goal of ESCAPE is to help children better understand scientific concepts, reverse scientific misconceptions, and reduce cognitive load through the educational techniques of embodied cognition.
Specifically, the ESCAPE Program and ESCAPE researchers are:
- Preparing teachers to address deficits in the science learning of elementary students, using an innovative integration of scientific inquiry and arts-based lessons that are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
- Using integrated approaches to problem-solving draw on both STEM and STEAM
- Helping English Language Learners (ELLs) and students under-represented in the Sciences develop the academic language needed to understand and apply scientific concepts.
- Exploring the increases in teacher content and pedagogical knowledge and measuring increases in student achievement in the Earth, Physical, and Life Sciences, as well as the impact on the science content knowledge and English language development of English language learners.
- Creating highly innovative, video-based online courses for the delivery of teacher professional development and curricular materials to extend ESCAPE's reach to all upper elementary teachers interested in boosting English language learners’ understanding of the sciences.
Building on Success
The ESCAPE project started in Orange County schools in 2014 with a traditional face-to-face cohort. Over three years (2014-2017), approximately 240 teachers from Orange Country were taught how to use engaging inquiry and arts-based instructional methods to enhance the achievement of approximately 30,000 students in grades 3 through 5. The professional development provided to teachers through the ESCAPE program was multifaceted. It started with week-long (40-hour) Summer Institutes in Earth Science (2014), Life Science (2015), and Physical Sciences (2016). During each subsequent school year, teachers participated in an additional 20 hours of follow-up professional development and implemented six science inquiry/visual and performing arts lessons aligned to each content area in the classroom. Segerstrom Center for the Arts provides teaching artists who came to the classroom to assist teachers with the visual and performing arts components. All professional development activities and classroom implementation of the curriculum were videotaped, producing high-quality video to support the development of a 100% online version of the program for the sustainable dissemination of the ESCAPE program to future cohorts.