Experimentation and exploration — the way scientists create new knowledge — will be adopted as the cornerstone for learning and teaching science in Arizona State University's Down to Earth Science fellow/teacher/student partnership program. The activities are based on a strongly interdisciplinary, multiscalar approach to earth systems science in three important research domains that powerfully convey science content — Materials Science and Engineering, Ecology, and Planetary Studies. ASU is poised to launch, and sustain, new approaches to increasing scientific literacy. We will expand upon the strong infrastructure of successful K-12 educational outreach programs from large-scale science and engineering research projects as well as ongoing and extensive collaborations with K-12 education. This project will: 1) integrate research, education, and outreach in a meaningful way by incorporating instructional strategies consistent with the national science standards; 2) increase teachers' knowledge of science content and concepts, and provide them opportunities to engage their students in actual scientific research; 3) help revitalize science education from the use of abstract and obscure examples to the contextual and the relevant; and 4) instill fellows with the skills to communicate scientific concepts to a wider audience and prepare them to be mentors and role models for students.
Goals & Objectives of Down to Earth Science II:
Goal 1: Integrate research in science and engineering into K–12 education while addressing classroom needs and state standards.
- Recruit, train, mentor, and evaluate the participation of the graduate students each year from the targeted disciplines
- Assist each fellow/teacher team in developing a written collaborative contract detailing the content area the fellow will address, learning objectives for both the teachers and the K-12 students, and an instructional sequence that includes a plan for assessing changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes
- Each fellow/teacher team will map the targeted content area and learning objectives for teachers/students classroom needs (as identified by the teacher) and the Arizona science standards
Goal 2: Provide a wide variety of opportunities for professional development in which teachers increase their content knowledge and have opportunities to build relationships with university research faculty.
- Fellows/faculty advisors to arrange summer research experience for the partner teachers
- Each fellow will develop a bibliography of recommended readings and websites related to his or her teacher’s targeted content area of interest
- Hold one GK-12 Teacher Symposium at ASU each semester where all teachersand fellows can gather together to share their learning experiences.
- Provide funds for fellow/teacher pairs to attend professional meetings or conferences
- Stage an Outreach Fest once per year to introduce teachers to the science resources available at ASU and in the community
Goal 3: Improve knowledge of science content, understanding of the scientific inquiry process, and attitudes toward science of K–12 students, especially those from underserved populations.
- Document significant positive achievement differences between eighth-grade students affected by the GK-12 fellows as compared to similar students. This objective will be met through analysis of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) accountability assessment to be initially administered for science in April 2007 (Arizona Revised Statutes 2005)
- Support each fellow/teacher pair in developing, delivering, and assessing the impact of at least two lessons per school year
- Encourage fellows to develop mentoring relationships with their K-12 students through science fair projects etc.
Goal 4: Enhance the fellows’ understanding of and ability to deliver student-centered, inquiry-method instruction in either a K–12 or university classroom.
- Provide fellows with one mandatory week-long summer workshop, one mandatory three-credit course in the fall, at least three enrichment activities for teachers and fellows in the summer and ongoing mentorship by project faculty in research-based methods of effective science instruction
- In the spring, support the eight fellows in a weekly, one-hour professional learning community focused on continuous improvement of teaching effectiveness
Goal 5: Develop and implement a plan for sustaining GK–12 activities beyond the grant period.
- Integrate activities into the Graduate College’s office for professional development of graduate students
- Align with ASU’s strategic mission particularly that of the Office of Vice President for University-School Partnerships
- Build synergy with on going reform efforts at schools.