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r ., ....... Building Support for the Science Program science education partnerships are a very flexible too! for bringing rich scien tit c resources into the hands and minds of teachers and students. Art Sussman, Science Education Partnerships, 1993 r ~ raditionally, public school sys- tems have viewed themselves as insulated islands within the com- munity. The message they have sent is, '~e are the experts on ed- ucation, and we know what's best for children." With the exception of parent-teacher organizations, schools usually have had little contact with the outside world. During the l980s and l990s, however, some school districts have changed their views about community involvement. They now see that in times of fiscal constraints and increasing demands for scientific and technological expertise, certain sectors of the community have much to offer the schools. For the elementary science program, community involve- ment is the fifth critical element in the science education reform effort. At first glance, community support may seem like an 122

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Building Support for the Science Program "extra," an element that, unlike curriculum and professional cle- velopment, is not really crucial to the program. That perception, however, needs to be reexamined. During the early stages of pro- gram ~levelopment, the more members of the community who are involved, the greater the likelihoocl that the program will get off to a strong start. Later on, the more stakeholders who are committed to the program, the greater the chance for its long-term survival. This chapter will explore strategies for building support for science education reform both within the school system and in the community. The long-term goal for the science program should be to engage as many groups and organizations as possible, each of which should be seen as adding a unique value to the program. We will begin by focusing on the school system. What can be done to gain the support of teachers, principals, and school board members? Are certain strategies particularly elective with these groups? Then we will discuss how to build support in the community. How can parents' interest be sparked so that they become advo- cates for the program, both within the school and the communi- ty? How can school districts reach out to business, industry, acade- mic institutions, museums, en cl other community groups that have a natural interest in improving science education in the schools? Building Support within the School System School districts are in a period of organizational flux. While many still depend on a central office to make key decisions about cur- ricuTum, philosophy, and pedagogy, more and more districts are decentralizing and placing more control in the hands of indivicI- ual schools. For the science program, this means that teachers and principals within individual schools will be conducting their own dialogues about the direction of the science program, the role of lead teachers, and ways to integrate science with other areas of the curriculum. But even as schools strive to become more auton- omous, they will continue to need the school system's support, es- pecially if the district has established a science materials support center. To ensure the ~nsurunona~zanon or tne science program over the long term, all levels in the school hierarchy teachers, principals, school system administrators, and school board off~- 123

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change cials must be convinced of the science program's importance. Moreover, bringing disengagecl teachers and administrators into the foIcl must be the ongoing responsibility of the program's lead- ership team. Below are some strategies that have been used in school dis- tricts throughout the country. Each strategy emphasizes effective communication as the key to reaching people en cl building posi- tive attitudes toward the science program. Reaching Teachers All effective science programs need a strong professional develop- ment component. Most school districts offer workshops to provide elementary school teachers with an opportunity to explore the concepts and skills stressed in the science modules before they in- troduce the modules in the classroom. Although an excellent be- ginning, this experience may not be enough to provide all the as- sistance and encouragement teachers need. Accordingly, many school districts set aside faculty meeting time for discussion of inquiry-centerecl science. They have found this to be an effective way to encourage teachers to share experi- ences and assist one another. In their own schools, among col- leagues, teachers often find it easier to express their concerns, ask questions, and "settle in" to the science program. Finally, in their own classrooms, teachers can experience the children's enthusi- asm for inquiry-centered science, which is also a strong motiva- tional force. Teachers will become more committed to the science pro- gram when they discover that the district is committee} to ensuring that the science materials will arrive in their classrooms on time. When teachers are provided with the necessary materials, have a chance to study the concepts and skills included in the science modules, and have seen how excited their students are about the program, the probability that they will engage themselves enthusi- astically in the new science program rises ~lramatically. Reaching Administrators and School Board Officials In many school districts, a leadership team is the prime mover be- hind the science program. It often consists of school (listrict ad 124

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Building Support for the Science Program Many districts send staff to national conferences, such as NSRC's Elementary Science Education Leadership Institute. These conferences provide opportunities for information sharing and networking. ministrators (the science coordinator or assistant superintendent for instruction, for example), principals, teachers, scientists, and parents. The leadership team develops a strategic plan and works to ensure that it is implemented. Sometimes, however, the superintendent and his or her staff or some school board members may be uncertain about the value of the program. In such cases, a plan to persuade this group of stakeholders is needed. An important first step is to provide a com- mon and shared experience for those stakeholders who have been iclentified as important to the reform effort. Such an experience could be a visit to districts with inquiry-centere(1 science programs or observations of inquiry-centered classrooms on videotape. Through such shared experiences, school district leaders will de- velop a new vision for science learning and a new context in which to develop the district's strategic plan. Another proven strategy is to give school board members and the superintenclent's staff an opportunity to experience inquiry- centered science for themselves. Bringing materials from an in- quiry-centered science module to a school board meeting, clivicl- ing the members into groups, and engaging them in some of the 125

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change activities in the science module has proved to be an effective way to convince people of the importance of an inquiry-centered sci ence program. If time is limitecl, one approach to engaging this group in in- quiry-centerec! science is to divide the science module into a series of independent investigations and to assign each investigation to a different group. After all the groups have completed their investi- gations, they share their findings. They discover that collectively they have explored the entire module and have been able to ob- serve the story line unfold anti the concepts build. This experi- ence, called a jigsaw workshop, can be an effective way of introcluc- ing adults to inquiry-centerec3 science education. Building Support Within the Wider Community Generating parent support is a first step in builcling support with- in the wicier community. Many parents are influential members of the community and can be prime movers in generating enthusi- asm for the program. In ad(lition, parents are a powerful voice within schools and can exert influence over their programs through parent-teacher organizations. Parents may also be members of the two main groups of stakeholders that can provide special assistance to the science pro- gram university scientists en c! corporate leaders. As illustrated in the profiles in Part 3: Inquiry-Centered Science in Practice, part- nerships between school districts and local universities and corpo- rations can leacl to greater political support as well as increased funding for the science program. Such relationships are crucial to the program's long-term success. At first, districts may begin with one partner, but over time, they should continue to expand the number of partners because of the unique contribution each one can make to the reform effort. Reaching Parents As mentioned earlier in this chapter, the local parent-teacher or- ganization is the major vehicle through which parents participate in school activities. Because these organizations play such an active role in the schools, it is important that they be informed about the science program and encouraged to serve as advocates for it. 126

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Building Support for the Science Program One way to reach parents is to make a presentation at a par- ent-teacher meeting. Jigsaw workshops work well with parents, too, because they allow them to experience inquiry-centered science firsthand. Once the parent organization is informed of the pro- gram, it may decicle to sponsor other events, such as a family sci- ence night or a science fair. At a Family Science Night, parents work with their children on activities they have performed in sci- ence class. At science nights and science fairs, parents can see the projects their children have completecl. Creating an alliance of interested and committed parents can strengthen the science program in many ways. Some parents may be scientists, and they may offer to visit the classroom. Other par- ents may have access to laboratories, nature centers, or museum exhibits and could help arrange Relit trips to enhance the science program. Finally, parents may know community members who don't have children in the schools but who have something to offer the science program, thereby widening the scope of the pro- gram and those working on it. Partnerships with CoZZeges and Universities One goal of a school district-university partnership is to establish a means through which the scientific community can contribute to the elementary science program. Two models in California the Pasadena Unifiecl School District Science Program (formerly Proj- ect SEED), and San Francisco's City Science-are highlighted in Part 3 of this book. Such partnerships can be beneficial to the school district, because the university can encourage its science faculty to become involved in the program. The university may also be able to attract additional funding. Often the best way for scientists to become involved in science education reform is by participating in professional development programs. In these settings, scientists can help broaden teachers' content knowledge of a science topic and help them better uncler- stand the rationale behind the investigations in the science mod- ules. To do this well, scientists need to understand the challenges el- ementary school teachers face and the most effective ways to engage chiTclren in learning through inquiry. Once scientists view teachers 127

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change as professionals, there can be a mutual exchange of icleas, leading to meaningful part- nerships. The involvement of uni- versity scientists has another benefit- the enlistment of the academic community as an advocate for science edu- cation reform within the school district and commu- nity. Many school districts have well-organized parent groups that can be very ef . . . . . - tect~ve In maintaining Cl~S- trict support for athletics and the arts. With appropri- ate support, scientists can serve the same function for the science program. An engineer works with a student in the classroom as part of a community outreach effort. Partnerships with Corporations Like university partnerships, school district-corporate partner- ships can bring both expertise and financial resources to the school district. Corporate sponsors may offer to help establish a materials support center, lend computer expertise, offer human resources and technical assistance, or organize professional devel- opment events such as summer institutes. Corporate partnerships are sometimes initiated by corpora- tions that are concerned about raising the level of scientific litera- cy in the nation as well as improving the quality of education in the school districts that are located in communities in which they have corporate sites. In other cases, school districts take the initiative to seek out local corporations that may have a particular interest in science education. School district-corporate relationships usually begin in the communities where the corporation has its major plants or offices. 128

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Building Support for the Science Program After deciding on where they will focus their efforts, corporations develop goals ant! a strategic plan for implementing their goals. For example, Hewlett-Packard has stated that one of its goals is to "improve science and mathematics proficiency significantly." To realize this goal, Hewlett-Packard is collaborating with 27 school districts, mostly in the western United States, to help them improve their elementary science programs. In support of these efforts, the corporation has given grants of $3O,OOO per year over a three-year period to each of these school districts. However, Hewlett-Packarcl believes that the involvement of its employees with the school clis- tricts is more important than its financial contributions. The Dow Chemical Company has made a commitment to work with 41 school districts near its corporate locations nationwide. In each of these locations, many Dow scientists, engineers, and other employees are working with school district personnel to introduce inquiry-centered science teaching into elementary schools. Merck & Co., Tnc., has realized its commitment to science ecl- ucation reform by establishing the Merck Institute for Science EcI- ucation. The institute is collaborating with five school districts on the East Coast and in Kansas to establish and sustain effective in quiry-centere(1 science programs by developing partnerships with teachers, school districts, parents, and institutions of higher edu- cation. The institute has established a resource center that is open to interested school districts. The center houses inquiry-centered curriculum modules that districts can borrow. District staff can also call the center for advice and informal technical assistance. Bristol-Myers Squibb and DuPont, while relative newcomers to the reform effort, have aIreacly maple significant contributions. Bristol-Myers Squibb is working with seven school districts. In Buf- falo, New York, Bristol-Myers Squibb is contributing to the devel- opment of an effective materials support system to equip Buffalo school teachers with the supplies nee(led to teach inquiry-cen- tered science. DuPont has developed a comprehensive plan and has completed the first year of implementation for the entire state of Delaware. The Bayer Foundation has made a commitment to raising public awareness of the need for improving science literacy. In ad- dition to working with consortia of school districts in several com 129

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change munities in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Elkhart, Incli- ana; and Charleston, South Carolina Bayer has launched an ex- tensive public relations campaign in support of science education. The campaign includes print ads, articles in local and regional newspapers and magazines, and displays in airport terminals. School districts that are interested in initiating a corporate re- lationship need to prepare well before approaching the corpora- tion. They should analyze the corporation's special concerns as well as the focus of its current philanthropic activities to determine its commitment to supporting K-12 education. As part of the research process, a spokesperson for the school district shouIc! (levelop a contact and begin cultivating a relationship with that person. These initial informal discussions may lead to the development of a part- nership between the school district and the corporation. As the partnership evolves, it is important that both groups (the school district and the corporation) work together to (levelop goals and a strategic plan. The efforts described here are only a few examples of the ways corporations are becoming involved in elementary science education reform. Numerous other partnership initiatives are uncler way through such groups as the Business Rouncitable, local chambers of commerce, and professional societies such as the American Chemical Society, Sigma Xi, and the American Physical Society. More corporations are becoming involved, en cl the num- ber of school district partnerships is increasing each year. Partnerships with Museums Science museums are another resource school districts can draw on as they continue to develop their science programs. In addition to providing schools with opportunities for field trips, science mu- seums offer a broad range of resources, from space for a science materials support center to facilities for professional development. Many science museums throughout the country have outreach programs that offer teachers professional development opportu- nities, as well as science kits and other teaching resources that teachers can borrow. For example, San Francisco's Exploratorium, a worId-famous science museum, has provided professional development oppor 130

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Building Support for the Science Program "unities for teachers since 1972. Its programs include summer in- stitutes for new and experienced teachers, workshops for teachers during the school year, and a lending library of science kits that can be used in conjunction with Exploratorium exhibitions. The Buffalo Museum of Science and the Buffalo Public Schools in New York have established a partnership called TEAM 2000. The goal of the partnership is to implement an inquiry-cen- tered science curriculum using museum-based experiences, hands-on materials, and alternative forms of assessment. Building on an earlier program funded by the National Science Foundation designed to reach 500 teachers by the fall of 1996, TEAM 2000 proposes to reach all 1,500 teachers in pre-kindergarten through grade ~ by the year 2000. The program has also made a commit- ment to purchase inquiry-centered science materials, which will be housed in the museum's science materials support center. Informal Community ReZationships In addition to the formal relationships clescribed here, there are ways for the science program to make informal connections in the community. For example, the coordinators of the science program can make presentations to civic groups, such as the Lions Club or the Junior League. If these groups are interested in learning more, they can participate in a jigsaw workshop. Another way to enlist public support is to bring some classroom science equipment and children to a local mall and present inquiry-centered science to shoppers. All of these activities can heighten awareness of the sci- ence program. As more and more people become excited about the science program, they can be enlisted to spread the word to other mem- bers of the community. When a broad base of support has been achieved, it is a sure sign that the program has taken hold. 131

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change Building support within the school district and the wider commu- nity is essential to the success of the science program. One effective way to introduce school administrators, parents, and oth- ers to inquiry-centered science is by conducting a jigsaw workshop. Through partnerships between school districts and universities, sci- entists can participate in professional development programs and become advocates for science education reform in the community. Corporations can help school districts improve their science pro- grams by forging partnerships that assist with professional develop- ment and by helping to establish science materials support centers. Science museums, too, can be effective partners in science educa tion reform. Building multiple partnerships should be viewed as a long-term goal of the science program. For Further Reading Csikszentmihalyi, M. 1995. "Education for the Twency-First Century." Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 124 (4~: 107-14. Decker, L. E., and V. A. Decker. 1988. Home/School/Community Involvement. Ar- lington, Va.: American Association of School Administrators. Dow, P. B. 1991. Schoolhouse Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Rigden, D. W. 1992. Business and the Schools: A Guide to effective programs. New York: Council for Aid to Education. Rigden, D. W. 1994. "Improving Science, Mathematics, and Technology Educa- tion: Opportunities for Business Support." New York: Council for Aid to Education. Sigma Xi. 1994. Scientists, Educators, and National Standards: Action at the Local Level. Research Triangle Park, N.C.: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Sussman, A., ed. 1993. Science Education Partnerships: Manualfor Scientists and K-12 Teachers. San Francisco: Universicy of California, San Francisco. 132