Scientist and Teacher Partnerships

Participants agreed that cooperative endeavors between scientists and teachers are an excellent strategy for teacher-education training. Scientist-teacher collaborations can be used to develop effective curriculum materials and implement inquiry-based teaching methods. Michael Klentschy suggested that the best types of partnerships consist of a scientist and a lead teacher working together to facilitate a group of teachers who have either a common interest or taught a common grade level. The next section describes two examples of successful scientist-teacher partnerships.

Pioneers in Scientist-Teacher Partnerships

Michael Klentschy

Superintendent, El Centro School District, El Centro, California

Michael Klentschy described his partnering experiences in his former district of Pasadena, California—an urban area where 85 percent of about 22,000 school-children come from the two lowest census-track income categories. "Though at the beginning it wasn't one of my highest priorities for action, science education reform became one when two faculty members from California Institute of Technology came and visited me in my office. I thought they were high-school teachers, but they happened to be two parents. These two gentlemen really got the ball rolling with science education reform in Pasadena." That partnership is a model for effective teacher-scientist collaborations now in place in many school districts in the United States.

"At that critical point when the science community began working with the



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--> Scientist and Teacher Partnerships Participants agreed that cooperative endeavors between scientists and teachers are an excellent strategy for teacher-education training. Scientist-teacher collaborations can be used to develop effective curriculum materials and implement inquiry-based teaching methods. Michael Klentschy suggested that the best types of partnerships consist of a scientist and a lead teacher working together to facilitate a group of teachers who have either a common interest or taught a common grade level. The next section describes two examples of successful scientist-teacher partnerships. Pioneers in Scientist-Teacher Partnerships Michael Klentschy Superintendent, El Centro School District, El Centro, California Michael Klentschy described his partnering experiences in his former district of Pasadena, California—an urban area where 85 percent of about 22,000 school-children come from the two lowest census-track income categories. "Though at the beginning it wasn't one of my highest priorities for action, science education reform became one when two faculty members from California Institute of Technology came and visited me in my office. I thought they were high-school teachers, but they happened to be two parents. These two gentlemen really got the ball rolling with science education reform in Pasadena." That partnership is a model for effective teacher-scientist collaborations now in place in many school districts in the United States. "At that critical point when the science community began working with the

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--> educators, the first thing we had to do was learn each other's language. You have little codes and acronyms; we do, too. It's kind of a toss up as to who has the most. When we started speaking in plain English, we found that we had more common ground than we had differences. Scientists play a critical role because they bring content background to the table that we don't have, and educators can bring classroom experience to the table that scientists don't have. What we do is develop a common experience for each other that ultimately we pass on to the next generation of students. It's kind of a variation on the Fast Plants TM experiment in terms of opening up and planting those little pods. That's basically the relationship that we can establish as educators and professional scientists. It's that planting and replanting that is going to make the difference in the types of curriculum decisions we make in the future." A Scientist and Teacher Make Broad, Unexpected Impacts Roland Otto Head, Center for Science and Engineering Education, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory "At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory we have had fourteen years of experience with high school and middle school teachers working as research associates in small groups with scientists, technicians, graduate and undergraduate students. Since 1983 over 270 appointments have been made in every field of scientific research and development at the Laboratory. These summer research assignments are reported by some teachers to be the most significant professional development experience of their careers. For others the insight into the world of science is invaluable providing them with renewal, revitalization and recognition that allows them to contribute to the reform in science education. At the same time the impact that these teachers have had on the scientists with whom they have worked and interacted has been significant. Teachers bring to the scientists insights into today's classrooms and the day-to-day challenges faced in educating today's students. These insights have motivated many scientists to greater and more meaningful involvement in K-12 education through long term partnerships with teachers. "In 1989 Dean Rockwell, a biology teacher from Macomb, Illinois was one of about 12 teachers selected for the LBL summer program. For some reason we had some trouble placing Dean in a life sciences laboratory so we placed him in an unlikely spot, with a physicist, Tony Hansen, in the atmospheric aerosol research group. Tony was the inventor of an instrument capable of measuring graphitic carbon aerosol (soot), a primary atmospheric pollutant from combustion of fossil fuels (Tony's patented device has been used to establish the existence of Arctic Haze and to track the course of Kuwait oil fires after Desert Storm). After

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--> learning more about the instrument, Dean discussed the possibility of doing soot measurement experiments with his students. The challenge they faced, given Dean's science budget, was that they would have to develop a procedure and instrument for under $10. Tony was the kind of inventor who preferred to use ordinary everyday materials, which he often gathered in his garage. When he had filled up one garage he rented another. Tony gladly took on the challenge and by the end of the summer he and Dean had developed a procedure that used Kleenex, a vacuum cleaner, a large yard bag, a light bulb, plastic cups, and a $2.40 photo cell that could be attached to a voltmeter. To Tony's surprise this low-tech procedure produced data that had a correlation coefficient of .999 when compared with data from measurements using his best instrument. The procedure and more recent improvements that include using an aquarium pump for longer time sampling is being published in the Journal of Chemical Education. "The story continues. Tony visited the Soviet Union shortly after the Berlin Wall fell. The air pollution problem, particularly the soot concentration in the Eastern European countries can be 10 times the concentration on a bad day in Los Angeles. The scientists there discussed their limited resources and their desire to set up a network to monitor the atmospheric soot concentrations. Tony suggested to his Eastern European colleagues that they use the system he and Dean Rockwell had developed. This idea was picked up by scientists in Slovenia with whom Tony had been working. After starting the project in Slovenia's schools Dean was asked in 1992 to go to Slovenia and train elementary and high school teachers to make these measurements. Dean did this and at the same time received recognition from the country's leaders for his contribution. The Slovenian national network was established in 1991, monitored by the National Institute of Chemistry and the results were reported in an international conference in Vienna in 1992. The report generated considerable interest from scientists in other Eastern European countries. As a result of the conference, the nation of Estonia, formerly a part of the Soviet Union, created a national network in 12 high schools using the Slovenia model, with financial support from the Soros Foundation. Dean has been invited back to Estonia this spring for lectures and tours of the sampling sites. A colleague of Tony's, Mirko Bizjak from the Hydrometeoro-logical Institute of Slovenia has described this work in a Bulletin of World Meteorological Organization (Vol. 43, No. 1 January 1994, pp 60). "Scientists have connections around the world that teachers do not. At the same time teachers know what works and motivate learning science in the classroom. By working in partnership in the scientists environment meaningful resources are developed for the classroom. The other important message is that children can participate in science discovery. For many teachers and students science is the cleaned up and simplified science in the text books and labs they do. There is often no concrete connection to the natural world they live and play in. In the story above, students of all grade levels connected to an open ended problem with the possibility of discovery. They became part of an investigation

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--> that was of interest to many others including real scientists. This level of deep connection with science should be an important goal for every teacher of science. It is the responsibility of the science community to partner with science teachers so this goal can be achieved." Scientists Teaching Inquiry Skills According to the National Science Education Standards (1996), inquiry-based learning will shape the future of science education. The National Science Education Standards describe, inquiry as "a step beyond science as a process, in which students develop skills, such as observation, inference, and experimentation. The new vision presented by the National Science Education Standards includes the processes of science and requires that students combine processes and scientific knowledge as they use scientific reasoning and critical thinking to develop their understanding of science." An inquiry-based process enables the student to learn how to design and interpret an investigation and communicate scientific ideas. Teachers guide students through discovery of real phenomena in classrooms, outdoors, and laboratory settings. Students begin to learn how to solve problems through teacher facilitation. Many educators believe that the greatest need of teachers is to learn and utilize inquiry-based approaches. Partnering with scientists should be a major part of this effort. Kathy Scoggin, an elementary school teacher from Minneapolis, described her role. "Basically, it's a teacher's job to facilitate learning. So I cannot stand up there and tell my students, 'This is what you need to know today.' I need to find out my students' interests, what's going on in the world that I should expose them to; help them figure out their questions; and keep them challenged. That's what makes a positive learning experience." Judith Williams, a high-school biology teacher in Central City, Nebraska, had a similar reaction. "I've heard so many people talk about scientists seeing their role as helping with content. I think you should help us learn how to do inquiry, so we can help our students solve problems. Most of us just don't know how to ask the right questions." Scientists can help teachers implement the science education standards by modeling the inquiry process. "Teachers learn to teach. We learn about pedagogy, child development, a little math; but we don't learn about inquiry the way you do it," said Kathy Scoggin. "So when an education system is being set up to help us, that's probably one of the most valuable things to include; and if you look at the National Science Education Standards, they are organized around inquiry-based education." Scientists can demonstrate the teacher's role as a facilitator by asking open-ended questions and showing them how to question the experimental variables, results, and conclusions. Michael Klentschy suggested that scientists could help teachers to keep the big picture in perspective. "Many times I have observed our

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--> teachers go through an activity-based approach to teaching science, but do so as a series of unconnected activities. Scientists can help teachers with questions like, 'What is this entire unit all about? How can we connect many of these activities?'" Michael Klentschy suggested that scientists bring along their laboratory journals when they are in working groups with teachers. "As part of every unit in which I have been associated, all students maintain lab journals for record keeping and reflecting. When the scientists go through their lab journals, teachers often will say, 'Oh, you didn't get the right answer the first time.' The scientist may reply, 'We're still not sure what we're doing is the right answer. It's just a better-formed question.' That really helps break down some of the barriers." Inquiry is about doing and learning by experience. Science teaching has evolved from the cookbook approach in which a laboratory exercise is done to reach a particular outcome to an experimental approach. Students engage in an open-ended investigation, find out what and why it happened, compare results with other students, and formulate predictions for next time. Kathy Scoggin added, "And if it doesn't come out the way you thought it was going to, you still have learned something. That's what it's all about. All of those things fit together. So, as far as it goes for creating good experiences, always keep in mind that it's got to involve doing and learning from what you are doing and it's building on that; it's scaffolding, that's what they call it in education." Sharing Science Resources An effective science program has ample and appropriate resources to support inquiry-based learning. Educators and scientists agreed that there is a lack of sufficient suitable resources to facilitate implementation of the National Science Education Standards. For example, educators pointed to the need for library materials that incorporate the National Science Education Standards. Educators mentioned that CD-ROMs, television in the classroom, and interactive media are more appealing to students than traditional library books. Much of the forum discussion centered on new opportunities created by increased use of the World Wide Web to access science education resources. Access to electronic media enable educators who are geographically isolated to acquire educational resources not generally available to them. Judith Williams, a teacher in Central City, Nebraska, indicated that she depends on electronic access to bulletin boards such as Genentech's Access Excellence for her high-school biology program. Society representatives suggested that societies could create World Wide Web home pages as a mechanism to communicate their K-12 educational activities. For example, the American Society of Microbiology has a home page on the World Wide Web that includes teacher-resource listings and an activities exchange. In addition, the Council of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (CAST) has a home page that can connect to 11 of their 31 membership societies,

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--> which also have home pages. Scientists anticipate that more societies will use the World Wide Web to post their materials and build communication with K-12 educators. Society representatives identified the following examples of information sources available for K-12 teachers: The Soil and Water Conservation Society is presenting new materials on water, environment, and agriculture to be distributed through the Discovery Channel on television and CD-ROM. The Institute of Food Technologists has a variety of materials that it distributes free of charge, including videos on food science, brochures, and various types of booklets. The American Society for Horticulture has prepared videotape material that can be distributed readily. The American Society of Microbiology is producing a film to emphasize the societal benefits of microbes for bioremediation, decomposition, and fermentation. North Carolina State University is conducting workshops funded by the National Science Foundation that link scientists and high-school teachers (SCI-LINK). Teachers are brought into the scientist's laboratory and exposed to various methods, and then the teachers are given the opportunity to write curricula relevant to those projects. The American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society, and Crop Science Society of America have instituted a summer internship in Honduras for 12 students. The American Association for the Advancement of Science had a conference on agriculture and K-12 education. Representatives from the 1890 land-grant colleges host a biannual symposium and invite minority students. Papers and posters are presented and prizes are given. Attendance is about 400. Not only academic scientists, but also scientists representing industry are included in this endeavor. Teachers continually need fresh ideas for their classroom activities. Because they are innovators, teachers will explore their local surroundings to find science-rich resources that will appeal to their students. For example, Michael Klentschy expects that the irrigated agricultural lands in his new school district of El Centro, California will provide a backdrop for numerous inquiry-based activities. Forum participants identified potential educational resources for teachers in rural areas: Land grant universities and colleges; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service; U.S. Parks and Game Commission;

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--> BOX 2 Impacts of the World Wide Web on Science Education Paul Williams, University of Wisconsin "At the Wisconsin Fast PlantsTM Program, many people using the fast plants were contacting us for information. Our staff just could not cope with the overwhelming load of mail, newspaper costs, and telephone calls from teachers all over the country. We decided to put up a server on the World Wide Web for teachers, students, and researchers to share information and we could stay out of it. During the first week 40 people from around the world registered on our electronic mail site. We were disappointed because there was no interaction. It seemed that everyone was just sitting there waiting for someone else to start a discussion. Two weeks later the first message appeared. From where do you think that message originated? It came from a sixth grader in Kansas. A message popped up that said, 'Hi, I'm Joey, and I'm doing an experiment on the nutrition of fast-plants. Then Joey described his experiment and waited for a reply. Within a brief amount of time, a sixth grader from California responded to Joey. Since then, the electronic discussion has flourished. Some thoughts struck me as a result of this incident: How am I going to be ready for those two sixth-graders when they arrive in my university in six or seven years? Can you imagine what science education will be for those two students when they reach middle school and high school? Will we be prepared to readjust the way we teach science at the college level to meet the need of the new generation of students trained under the standards? How will we change our teaching to meet their expectations?" Bureau of Land Management; Farmers and the Extension Service; Local utilities, including water and sewerage departments; U.S. Department of Defense bases; and Agricultural input suppliers. Developing Curriculum Materials The National Science Education Standards provides criteria about the science content that should be used to guide the curriculum-development process. The content as translated into the classroom is usually determined at the state or

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--> district level, or the ad hoc curriculum is sometimes the table of contents in the course textbook. Educators will need curriculum materials aligned with the National Science Education Standards and community-wide assurances that these materials will serve the needs of students. Teachers acknowledge the efforts of scientists to provide curriculum materials for science classrooms, but some of these resources are not adaptable to a particular teaching curriculum and might not appeal to students. As a result, many of these materials stay on the shelf and do not get into students' hands. "We can put out the most wonderful curriculum materials in the world, but when the classroom door closes, teachers do pretty much what they feel most comfortable doing," admitted Michael Klentschy. Judith Williams stated, "When it comes down to who makes the decision about what will be taught in my school—it's me. I'm the biology teacher and I teach every student biology!" Kathy Scoggin suggested one way for scientists to get around that problem. "When you are asking yourself, what are the big concepts that I think they should know in food and fiber, consider how that connects to these kids' lives, because that's what they're going to learn." Richard Stuckey, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, elaborated on this farm-to-table approach. "Food is a common denominator for all children, whereas agriculture by itself is not. Agriculture is a part of that food system, so I don't think that it delimits what can be included in the curriculum regarding agriculture. But I think you can get the attention of kids if you start talking about food and then look at that total system." Agricultural applications can be used as examples to support outcomes described in the science-content categories. Harold Pratt emphasized the need to incorporate basic scientific principles into development of curriculum materials. For example, in the American Chemical Society's Chemistry in the Community, a contemporary problem is defined and then a solution is determined through application of fundamental scientific principles. In the same way, agricultural, food, and environmental topics can serve as a basis for learning basic scientific principles. William DeLauder, president of Delaware State University, added that Delaware has established a science initiative that originated with a grant from the National Science Foundation. "Teachers developed a backpack experiment to facilitate learning of basic concepts in chemistry and physics because the backpack is a familiar object to youngsters. Children learn chemical principles through studies on chemicals and materials used to manufacture the backpack. Laws of physics can be applied to investigations of the backpack's strength and weight. The backpack is an example of a way to teach basic science concepts by using familiar objects." Representatives from the professional societies stressed the importance of educator-scientist partnerships for curriculum development activities. Scientists can offer the content knowledge in this process, but teachers have a great deal to teach scientists about pedagogy. For example, in the El Centro California schools,

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--> at least two scientists in the area volunteer to be mentors for each of 32 science units. Michael Klentschy emphasized that these scientists do not sit in the laboratory and write the unit. ''These are collaborative efforts between classroom teachers who are using them and the content scientists who help provide perspective on the larger ideas. Teacher involvement becomes even more important as we link these units together all the way through to the end of eighth grade.'' Participants suggested that societies should seek new collaborative arrangements with teachers, scientists outside of their discipline, and other professional societies. Although some curriculum materials could be adapted to fit the new standards, in other cases collaborations could bring new ideas into the process. In addition, societies that share a discipline could choose to work together on a project. For instance, some of the smaller societies that have little infrastructure might benefit by linking their programs to those of larger societies with similar interests. Some professional society representatives admitted that conflicts do arise among societies, especially in regard to sharing credit. They cautioned that these potential problems should be addressed in advance. Participants identified some cooperative curriculum projects under development. For example, Food, Land, and People is a coalition of stakeholders that is developing science-education materials that are being pilot tested by over 400 teachers. Harold Pratt, of the National Research Council, advised participants that the approach of using the fiber and food industry for building curriculum materials can be powerful as long as efforts are coordinated with larger groups. "If each professional society were to develop their own materials, there would be so much material that chaos would result. Efforts should be part of a school system, curriculum-development group, or state group program. Thought should be given to how the materials will be utilized or combined with other societies. Coordination will build support and institutionalization of the product and some confidence that the work is going to pay off."