Message from Chair
Greetings! I'm Peggy McMahan from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and I am Chair of the Forum on Education for 2006. I have spent my career as a physicist (nuclear and some accelerator) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - at 75 arguably the oldest national laboratory - thus it is very appropriate that the theme of this first newsletter of my term are programs in place at national laboratories, in industry and at museums, with an emphasis on reaching out to K-12 teachers and students. Kudos to editors Ernie Malamud, Larry Woolfe and Chance Hoellworth (Teacher Preparation Section) for putting together a great issue.
While one often thinks of STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) outreach programs as being strictly in the domain of the NSF, the Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratories have a long history of activity in this area as well. Our own laboratory is a good example. This summer Berkeley lab has over 80 undergraduates participating in programs funded by the DOE (the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Initiative, the Community College Initiative, Faculty and Student Teams, and the Preservice Teacher Initiative), 12 teachers participating in the DOE-funded Laboratory Science Teacher Professional Development Program (LSTPDP), and 40 high school students participating in research internships paid for by the research programs directly. On top of a total lab population of about 3800 science, engineering and support staff, these students and teachers make a noticeable impact, particularly in the cafeteria lines and shuttle buses. One example of the breadth of outreach programs undertaken by Education Departments at our various DOE national laboratories is given by Doug Higinbotham in JLab's Outreach Programs.
In this issue you will be introduced to a number of outreach programs that have made an impact on a national or regional level. Many of the programs provide professional development opportunities for inservice teachers. For example, in Laboratory Science Teacher Professional Development Program, Todd Clark and Jennifer Coughlin of the DOE Office of Science describe a program which gives inservice teachers the opportunity to spend three summers working at one of seven DOE national laboratories, either as part of a research group or in working on curriculum development. With increased funding projected for 2007, it is hoped to expand this program to 17 national laboratories. In Online Physics Education Resources from the American Museum of Natural History, Rob Steiner describes several of their innovative web-based professional development programs for K-12 teachers. In Improving Science Teaching in California, Dick Farnsworth and Stan Hitomi describe the partnership between the LLNL Science and Technology Education Program and the University of California at Davis' Edward Teller Education Center to provide professional content development in four scientific disciplines leading - should a teacher choose to follow the program to completion - to mentored research experiences. This program has served several hundred teachers in the first three years of operation.
Other articles describe alliances and partnerships designed to leverage resources and reach more teachers and students. In Engaging Faculty Scientists in K-12 Collaborations, Lawrence Hall of Science Director Elizabeth Stage proposes motivation and strategies for engaging faculty in large-scale outreach efforts. In The San Diego Science Alliance: Fostering Community Wide Industrial and Academic Outreach, by Patricia Winter, Nancy Taylor, Christopher Smith and Rick Olson, the authors describe a few of the many activities of the SDSA, a non-profit consortium of industry and academic institutions in the San Diego area. In an alliance forged along scientific lines, Education in Nuclear Science: A Status Report and Recommendations for the Beginning of the 21st Century describes the recent exercise by the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee to examine the state of nuclear science education at all levels and to make recommendations to the NSF and the DOE.
Other articles describe resource and curriculum development, often in conjunction with a school visit program. In Nanosense: Introducing High School Students to Nanoscale Science, Patricia Schank and Alyssa Wise describe the design and implementation of a nanoscience curriculum for the high school classroom, an NSF-funded project of SRI. In The Bose In Harmony With Education program, Jason Brisbois of Bose Corporation describes his company's commitment to developing interdisciplinary education modules in music, science and math, which they use in elementary school visits around the U.S. and other countries in which they have offices. In The General Atomics Fusion Education Outreach Program, Rick Lee describes the curriculum material they have developed to introduce plasma physics and fusion energy to the K-12 classroom. This material is also used as part of a nationwide effort of members of the Division of Plasma Physics.
The Teacher Preparation section for this issue focuses on Learning Assistants programs that have been introduced at several universities. Learning Assistants are undergraduate physics majors who assist in the classroom teaching undergraduate courses. It gives the students valuable teaching experience and has led to a demonstrated increase in the number of students considering K-12 teaching as a career option.
Our Summer newsletter concludes with the always popular Browsing the Journals section with long-time newsletter editor Thomas Rossing.
Ray Orbach, Director of the DOE Office of Science, has been quoted: "Scientific literacy is an essential task to which we must all contribute. Otherwise, our ability to adapt to our rapidly changing technological environment will be at risk. Yet, 42% of scientists do not engage in any form of public outreach. . . . The beauty of science, its import, and its logic have much to contribute to our national heritage. All of us are teachers. We must continue to show the way."
We hope that the material presented in this newsletter will inspire you and perhaps give you ideas to pursue in your community or at your institution, so that you too can show the way.
|The author with five preservice teachers, two inservice teacher mentors and one undergraduate learning assistant at the LBNL Intensive Research Institute for preservice science and math teachers, August 2004
Peggy McMahan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Research Coordinator for the 88-Inch Cyclotron at LBNL, is Chair of the FEd and a long time member of the DNP Education Committee.