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Green Bay, Wisconsin The Einstein Project Builds a Science Program Through Community Partnerships A nonprofit corporationfounded in 1991, the Einstein Project is a business and community partnership that supports high-quality science, math, and technology education in nine public school distracts, the Green Bay Catholic Diocese, and the Oneida Nation's Schools in northeastern Wisconsin. Over the past three years, the project has served 75 schools, I, 900 teachers, and 25, 000 elementary school students. The program is founded on the belief that a [ong-term commitment, volunteerism, and a few generous funders can get a science program off the ground. The program's founders developed some innovative strategies for procuringfunds that other programs may want to consider using. 1 he Einstein Project did not have any support when it started-no funding, no appropriate cur- riculum materials, no professional development program. What propelled the project forward, according to Cecilia Turriff, one of its founders, was "a vision." Having taught all her life, Turriff says that everywhere she went, she saw a tremendous need for both good science materials and expertise in the teaching of science. "l knifer T wad being th`> wrong thing " she says, "but I didn't know ^~ ~ ~ ~ ~ it's 'I ~ ------~ 7 what was right." Along with her scientist husband, David, Turriff assembled a group of Green Bay public school teachers who were concerned about the lack of high{~ualit,v science education in the area and arranged a meeting with Foth and Van Dyke, a large architectural and engineering firm headquartered in Green Bay. From that ~4

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Green Bay, Wisconsin meeting evolved what was to be the essence of the Einstein Project: business and education communities brought together in a cook erative effort. The project soon spread to all the private en c! public school systems of Brown County, Wisconsin, including the Catholic Diocese. Early on, it became clear that, except for the Green Bay school system, no single school or business in the area was large enough to support a substantial partnership. By banding together, however, financial and human resources could be poolecl that could make a difference in the educational process. David Ewald, district administrator of the Denmark, Wiscon- sin, Public Schools and board president of the Einstein Project, says that when he thinks back to that time, "I don't picture super- intenclents around the table. I think of business people and teach- ers around the table." He attributes the project's initial success to this core group of founders, their "strong, energetic leadership up front who believecl in an almost evangelistic sense that hands-on, inquiry-centerec3 science was the right thing." Solidifying the Partnership In May 1991, a board of directors was appointed with a represen- tative from each public school system, the Catholic Diocese, each of the three institutions of higher education in the county, six local businesses, and the Cooperative Educational Service Agency No. 7, the liaison agency between the school districts and the state su- perintencient's office. Accommodation in the by-laws of incorpo- ration was made for up to 12 business representatives to serve on the board. One of the first acts of the project's board of directors was to apply to the Internal Revenue Service for 501 (c) (3) status. This designation enables the Einstein Project to receive federal and state grants as well as tax-deductible charitable donations from businesses and individuals. In the first year of operation, the Einstein Project applied for over one-half million dollars of state and fecleral grant money anct carried out a capital fund drive in the business community for $450,000. Even before the official fund-raising campaign was launched, several businesses began supporting the project. Wis- consin Public Service, headquartered in Green Bay, made a sub- stantial contribution of time, materials, and money. Paper Con ~5

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Inquiry-Centered Science in Practice versing, Inc., also in Green Bay, made a donation that allowed the implementation of programs to get under way. The Wisconsin De- partment of Public Instruction awarder! the Einstein Project a grant from its Science, Mathematics, and Technology Grant Pro- gram to be used for operational expenses, en cl the American Chemical Society awarded the project one of six national grants to assist in the development of science partnerships. Why were businesses and organizations willing to contribute time, talent, and funds to support the Einstein Project? Many of these founclers and supporters seemed to understand that tomor- row's problem solvers are sitting in today's classrooms. For example, Dan Bollom, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Pub kc Service, says, "I've always been a strong proponent of education. As a businessman and school board member, I feel there is so much we can do to help students be better preparer! for the future. The Einstein Project will enable students to see the many possibilities awaiting them in the world of science and technology." One of the project's first activities was to test two nationally known hancls-on science programs Full Option Science System (FOSS) and Science and Technology for Children (STC)- at 10 schools. After evaluating these pilot tests, the project's leaclers de- cicled to purchase, maintain, and distribute STC kits to participat- ing schools from a centralized resource center. In 1992 en cl 1993, the project purchased between 100 and 150 kits. By 1994, the num- ber of kits was close to 300, and they were serving between 12,000 and 15,000 stuclents. Each school pays a $100 rental fee each time it uses a science kit. In 1995, the project expanded to include FOSS's kindergarten materials. The goal for the coming school year is to serve between 25,000 and 30,000 schoolchildren. Teacher volunteers do the in-service training required before kits can be rented. Diane McNeill, currently a science teacher at Edison Middle School in Green Bay, was one of the first teachers to pilot-test the kits for the Einstein Project, and she has been training teachers in their use ever since. McNeill says, "I have done training at all of the summer academies Annual, week-Ion" teacher enhancement workshops aimed at science ant! math] as well as after school and on Saturdays, all on my own time. When I ask myself why, the answer is the kills. They're benefiting so ~6

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A: it:' Green Bay, Wisconsin much and I want to help other teachers who want to become in- volved. I don't want them to lose their enthusiasm." She adcls that inquiry-based science teaching has benefited her personally, as well. "It has improved all of my teaching skills. I can relate using the inquiry-based method to many other subjects." "Door Knocking" Produces Results As Ewald says, there was a lot of "knocking on doors," especially in the early days. As one of the main "door knockers," Cecilia Turriff found herself spreading the word of the project's mission to any- one who seemed the slightest bit interested. She went to local school boards, PTA and Girl Scout meetings, meetings of the chamber of commerce, and business conventions. "My job was to finagle," says Turriff, "and I did it well." If businesses didn't have funds to donate, the project asked for free materials or materials at a discount- for the kits. The requests were met with a variety of contributions. One business donated plant stands for the Plant Growth and Development unit. One hundred buckets for use in the Chemical Tests units came free from a plastics company in California. In addition to providing seed money for project development and needs assessment, Wis- consin Public Service funded the restocking of the Electric Circuits unit. When the project's photocopying machine went on the blink, Turriff called a company in Milwaukee that serviced the machine at a saving of about $600. (She says the machine is clunk- ing along to this clay.) Finally, having identified the original man- ufacturers of some key items in the STC science kits, the project was able to go directly to the supply source itself. Motors for the Magnets and Motors unit, which previously had cost $~.27 apiece, were obtained for a mere 20 cents apiece, for example. Turriff es- timates that between January and April of 1994, she helped save the project more than $30,000 in supplies by getting them donat- ecI or at reclucec3 costs. . Even a building was, in a sense, donated by the community. In 1991, the Einstein Project occupied a house located on the grounds of a local parochial school. This house was and still is- rented to the project for $1 per year in exchange for the project using the school as a place to develop programs. Originally used as ~7

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Inquiry-Centered Science in Practice the project's science resource center, today that building houses the Einstein Project's four-person full-time staff. Volunteers Are Key In addition to the teachers who volunteer to do the training, an enormous number of other volunteers augment the project's small staff. These dedicated individuals put in hundreds of hours in the 3,000-plus-square-foot warehouse space that currently serves as the resource center. Volunteers stock the new kits, refurbish the old ones, and prepare the bags of materials that go into the kits. According to Project Director Tim Cornell, many of the volunteers are senior citizens, "cloctors, dentists, teachers, and people who just care enough to give their time." For example, a retired car- penter came in and built an enormous stand on which to grow plants. A retiree! dentist made balances for the Balancing and Weighing unit. The extensive use of volunteers also makes the project at- tractive to funders. As Cornell explains, "It makes the project very attractive to people who want to support it financially. They know that very little of their money goes into overhead." Anna Kim, a former clerk in the resource center, says, "A vol- unteer network can play a big part in keeping a science resource center together. Without this kind of community support, it wouIcl have been a struggle to make it work." And the volunteers seem to get a lot out of their experience. According to Kim, "They really enjoy it. They fee] like they are doing something useful. In time, they came to fee] like family second moms en cl dads." Looking to the Future What does the future have in store for the Einstein Project? One of the current priorities is to strengthen the use of computer tech- nology. The project has established a countywide bulletin board system, complete with electronic mail, conferences in each major science discipline, and CD-ROM capability. Students, teachers, sci- entists, and myriad! project stakehol~lers may access the bulletin board system with a local phone call from a modem-equipped computer. On-line conferences, which are intendecl to broaden users' knowledge base within a specific science cliscipline, are ser

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Green Bay, Wisconsin viced by one or more experts from the community. For example, professionals from Green Bay's two largest hospitals service the medical conference, local veterinarians tend the vet conference, and a high school biology class researches questions posed by ele- mentary school children in a life sciences conference. In effect, the technology component provides a forum where individuals can sign on electronically and talk to each other on-line, leave messages, read other people's questions and answers, and estab- lish a dialogue with an expert. In addition, the project is working with teachers to identify science modules that lend themselves to collecting and graphing ciata. The project plans to facilitate the recording of the data on computer spreadsheets or databases so that the data can be repro- cluced readily in text or graphic formats. This integration of tech- nolo~Y with scientific discovery will give students a better under =, , standing of how computers are used in business, industry, medicine, and other fields. The project also continues to confront financial realities. Ac- cording to Cornell, "Our ultimate goal is that the project will be nearly selsustaining, rel,Ying very little on repetitive cash contri- butions from local businesses and individuals." But Cornell is quick to acknowledge the essential role the business community has played in the project's growth. He says, "Without the belief en cl commitment from this key segment of the community, the project could not have moved from concept to reality. Their gen- erous contributions of time, expertise, and funds have rendered this a total community effort, one that has a very high probability of continued Tong-term success." ~9

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Inquiry-Centered Science in Practice Enlisting local business and community support has many benefits. Businesses can donate funds, but they are also a potential source of materials, technical expertise, and guidance in the business world. The program has benefited from a broad funding base that includes a combination of federal and state grants, as well as contributions and in-kind services from local businesses. It is important to involve teachers in inquiry-centered programs every step of the way. Teachers can help with program research and development and in-service training, and they can serve as propo- nents of the program. An efficient, well-stocked materials center is essential and can be kept running smoothly with the help of community volunteers. 190