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Improving the teaching of science in Ohio

A $3.4 million investment in improving science in grades 7-10 in Ohio will bring decades of Miami science education expertise to 4,800 teachers in a multilevel training effort.

Miami's Institute for Integrated Science (IIS), a collaboration of programs working to improve science education, has received the two-year $3.4 million grant from the Ohio Department of Education to provide training, materials and extended learning opportunities for teachers in life, earth and physical sciences. Content areas focus on topics in which students scored poorly on the Ohio Graduation Test.

“We will provide exciting ways for teachers to present science and we hope to build partnerships, so that teachers develop career-long growth in their teaching,” said Mickey Sarquis, project director and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Miami Middletown's Center for Chemistry Education (CCE). Sarquis and the CCE have built a nationwide network of educators and private-sector partners, reaching about 12,500 teachers who teach more than 1 million students each year (400,000 in Ohio).

Co-project directors Richard Lee, Distinguished Professor of Zoology, and Christopher Myers (interdisciplinary studies), director of Project Dragonfly, have similarly improved science learning for thousands of students each year through environmental workshops and Web learning communities for teachers, among other programs. Myers also works with iDiscovery, a collaboration of Dragonfly and OSI Discovery, which offers professional development statewide, integrating face-to-face interactions with Web-based learning communities and targeting areas with underserved populations.

The new program will train facilitators across Ohio so that the teachers only have to travel regionally for the five-day summer institutes and follow-up workshops. Tuition is covered by the grant, as are supplies so that teachers leave with the resources to recreate lessons. Teachers and facilitators will receive graduate credit. For one year after the in-person training, teachers will be guided through online discussions and be able to chat with other teachers about lessons, providing vital support needed while implementing change, says Sarquis.

Miami is able to provide such a far-reaching effort because its existing science education programs have developed award-winning research-based materials and curriculum, a statewide network of educators, a Web-based learning platform and years of administrative experience.

Other partners in IIS who will contribute to the teacher training program are the Discovery Center with iDiscovery, Dragonfly, the Evaluation and Assessment Center for Science and Mathematics and Experiential Learning in Earth and Life Sciences.

Date Published: 01/13/2005
Volume: 24   Number: 20

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