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Scientist in the Classroom

Program Description

Three major components of the program include a two-week summer workshop for fellows and teachers, 30 days of hands-on instruction in the classroom during the academic year, and professional development for fellows and teachers.

Summer Workshop for Science Fellows and Partner Teachers

The summer workshop prepares teachers and fellows to work towards a successful and rewarding school year. Participants spend two weeks developing their partnering relationships and planning lessons and activities for the upcoming academic year. Specifically, fellows and partner teachers:

  • participate in team-building activities;
  • work to clearly define the roles and expectations of each member of the team;
  • participate in activities to clarify the nature of hands-on and inquiry-based instruction;
  • focus on curriculum alignment with pertinent local standards for math and science;
  • form content teams to develop lessons, activities, and demonstrations that correlate with the curriculum;
  • demonstrate lessons to partner teachers and fellows in preparation for instruction in middle school science classes in the fall; and
  • collaborate with local resources to increase scientific knowledge and develop a sense of scientific community.

An important goal of Scientist in the Classroom Partnership Program is to build and support strong fellow-teacher partnerships. A two-week summer workshop provides an opportunity for fellows and teachers to establish a working relationship, plan lessons and activities, and hone classroom management and teaching skills.

Academic Year Program

The most exciting part of the program takes place in classrooms when the fellows and teachers present the hands-on lessons they prepared during the summer workshop. Students are thrilled to have the additional attention and the opportunity to conduct hands-on experiments under the guidance of real scientists.

Fellows are required to spend a minimum of 5 hours per week delivering classroom instruction, which translates to 1 teaching day per week at the assigned school. Two hours of time outside of the classroom is designated for planning and preparation. The majority of the in-classroom time is spent teaching laboratory activities with partner teachers. These lessons come from a variety of sources including the summer planning workshop, SCP kit lessons, teacher-developed lessons, or fellow-created lessons. Most lessons are planned collaboratively with partner teachers in specific content areas during the summer workshop.

Fellows focus on working with partner teachers to develop and implement hands-on, inquiry-based activities; to provide classroom demonstrations; and to assist in tutoring of students and directing student research projects. In the current program year, the focus is on the elementary and middle school level, using a model that has been highly successful from the initial year of the NSF GK-12 Program at Bass Middle School.

Monthly Fellow Seminar

Fellows attend monthly two-hour seminars with the program director (Dr. Jennifer Ufnar) in addition to the one day per week working in the school and two hours of planning time. The seminar includes presentations from other program personnel, guest speakers from the five university partners, discussions concerning education methods, and a plethora of other engaging activities. The seminar is designed to provide a forum for feedback from the fellows, follow their progress in the program, provide reflection time for the teaching experience, and acquire feedback from the fellows to improve the program design for future cohorts. These sessions are also designed to give the fellows assistance in any activity related to the classroom. If fellows require help with individual concerns relating to the program, they can request it during seminar time by speaking directly with Dr. Ufnar.