COVID Connects Us: A Culture-Setting Collaboration and Unit

Presented by:
April Luehmann
Yang Zhang

NSF Noyce Scholars graduate from teacher preparation programs ready to advocate for transformative changes in science and math education. This film tells the story of how, when COVID struck, five of these Noyce Scholars joined with other teachers to create something that would not only help their students keep their circles safe but also pave the way for other science teachers to learn justice-centered ambitious pedagogy. “COVID Connects Us” (COVIDXUS) was designed by these teachers to be a culture-setting first science unit of the year; to use science education to meet a number of urgent needs amplified by the pandemic including needs for critical science literacy, social and emotional support, racial justice, and health literacies. The unit was implemented in September in four neighboring school districts with over 750 middle and high school youth. The film highlights the creative and passionate ways youth and teachers together took up the anchoring phenomenon, “Why are People of Color disproportionately affected by COVID, and why does what I do in response matter?”  Classrooms partnered with local physicians as Medical Mentors, held debates about the requirement of mask use when social distance is maintained, designed investigations about the effectiveness of various types of masks and conducted their own contact tracing analyses of interactions they were a part of within a recent 24-hour period. Teachers empowered youth to be transformative intellectuals. Taking their cue from ecological succession, these teachers capitalized on the destruction caused by the pandemic to nurture new life.

NSF Awards: 1758238

Presented in: 2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Related Leadership Program
Noyce Scholars
Grade Level
Middle School
High School
Instructional Materials
Addressing NGSS
Published Date
May 2021
Published In
2021 STEM for All Video Showcase
Subject Area