There are three
specialists that will be part of
project and coordinated by all three Principal Investigators. Each group
will have individual roles to play, while at the same time be an integral
part of the overall project objectives.
One member of each four-member team for the summer Institutes will be a
specialist. This person may be a district curriculum coordinator, a
district or school level administrator, a university scientist, and/or an
educational researcher. The specialist will be a full member of the team
and will participate in almost all of the same activities as the teacher
team members. However, there will be times when the specialists are
separated and involved in different activities independently from the
teachers. During the independent sessions, work will be provided that will
focus on becoming a mentor and a facilitator for the teachers when they
return to the classroom. Research has indicated that change in teachers'
classroom practices are more likely to happen when there is a support
system that includes mentors and administrators. By developing the
administrators as mentors, the possibility for enhanced teacher support is
There will be an emphasis placed on NSES during the sessions with
specialists. These specialists need to understand the philosophy of the
NSES and the importance of making changes in the way science is taught.
If changes are to be made in the preparation of future science teachers,
those responsible for science education must be grounded in the philosophy
behind the recommendations in the national standards.
Post-doctoral positions and graduate assistantships will be available
at each of the three involved centers; i.e. the CSME, the MEC&A and the
PSLC. The post-doctoral fellows will work with the project staff on
research projects. Research projects will include working with the
polymer science, science and/or mathematics discipline affiliates, or
marine science professors on projects that involve the teaching of
science. There is a research component to this project (outlined below)
that would be an excellent opportunity for a post-doctoral student to
develop a study that could have an impact on science/teacher education.
The CSME at The University of Southern Mississippi is located in the
College of Science and Technology instead of a College of Education. As a
result, there is a strong content focus in the graduate programs. CSME
offers Masters and Ph.D. degrees in science education with emphasis areas
in mathematics, biology, chemistry, coastal science, geology, marine
science, and/or physics. An emphasis in polymer science is being
developed and should be in place by the Spring 2001 semester. By offering
graduate degrees with strong emphasis on the content of coastal science,
marine science, and/or polymer science, graduates of the program are
qualified for positions in college and/or university science departments
as science educators. In addition, graduates of the program will be
qualified to enter into informal science programs such as aquariums,
science centers, museums, exploratoriums, and/or discovery centers. The
combination of a strong content knowledge base in marine or polymer
science and an understanding of pedagogical issues involved in science
education provides a unique opportunity for specialists, once they leave
the program, to impact the teaching of science on the college level, the
preparation of future science teachers, and in informal science settings.
Specialists interested in pursuing advanced degrees will have the
opportunity to enter a graduate program through CSME.
Twelve scholars, comprised of specialists from the categories of
university scientists, informal science educators, and state departments
of education personnel, will be involved within the three USM Centers.
Each of these (PSLC, CSME and MEC&A) will have the scholars working in
three-month time periods or an equivalent of one FTE per USM Center per
year. These twelve scholars will each undertake a three-month individual
collaboration with members of the particular Center in which they are
located involving polymer and/or marine science content material
development, or a science education research project. A scholar may also
choose to combine the work of two or three of the Centers into one
project. These individual projects will annually allow "win-win"
partnerships for each of the three USM Centers, the twelve participants,
and one of NSF's goal in achieving improved connection between science
research results, and what educators know and are able to teach about
Possible projects include:
The three groups of specialists will not be working in isolation. The
scholars will interact with the post-doctoral and graduate students and
could collaborate on research topics of common interest. Also, the
post-doctoral and graduate students will have ample opportunity to work
with the summer institute participants, including the specialist on each
team. Specialist from the summer institute team will be encouraged to
continue their education through the graduate program in the CSME and
would therefore cross over to a different category of specialist.
Interaction between the three groups will be encouraged and supported by
all project staff members.
A scholar may visit the MEC&A to examine methods of maintaining and
expanding aquarium activities, or identifying ways of developing an
outreach program for formal and informal education specialists
A scholar may choose to focus on an informal science education project
that integrates polymer materials with marine applications such as
medicines from the sea, erosion preventatives, anti-pollutants, waterfront
development, or polymers used in the offshore oil industry.
A scholar may choose to focus on exhibitry that "bridges the gap"
between research data and everyday life. For example, the natural or
man-made environments in which they are raised may predicate the price of
oysters. Man-made oyster beds often involves the use of polymers in the
A scholar in science education may explore a comparison between
multimedia and online assessment practices with traditional classroom
assessments. Or, a scholar may develop material for student learning at
different education levels. With the interdisciplinary nature of polymer
and marine science, the materials could be naturally centered around the
concepts imbedded in the content areas.