Elementary teachers learn more science at UW-Green Bay

Thirty-six Wisconsin elementary school teachers are taking part in a training program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to learn how to better incorporate science methods into daily classroom activities.

UW-Green Bay, in partnership with The Einstein Project, received a $335,395 grant last year from the Wisconsin Improving Teacher Quality Program to develop summer science institutes for elementary school teachers during the summers of 2009, 2010, and 2011.

This year’s program, which runs from August 2-13, focuses on botany and human body systems. Teachers are learning ways to incorporate more science in their classrooms.

“There are many challenges facing elementary school teachers to teach more science in their classrooms,” said Scott Ashmann, associate professor of Education and director of the Einstein Science Institute for Elementary School Teachers Project at UW-Green Bay. “This project addresses two of these challenges by enhancing participants’ science knowledge and science teaching skills.”

Teachers are working with UW-Green Bay professors to learn how to perform hands-on experiments with their elementary school students, including such things as plant identification, meaningful ways to teach photosynthesis, analyzing the human footprint, and investigating various human body systems. Mathew Dornbush, associate professor of biology in the Natural and Applied Sciences unit, and Amanda Nelson, assistant professor of Human Biology, are serving as co-instructors. Dornbush is leading the visiting educators through presentations and activities related to plants. Nelson is demonstrating how these teachers can incorporate human body systems concepts into the elementary school science curriculum.

Other teaching methods will include science “notebooking,” which involves students learning about the scientific process and how to document their work, Ashmann said.

“Eventually, we want students to be able to come up with conclusions to scientific questions that are based on data and reasoning, and not based on guessing and prior beliefs that may be faulty,” he added.

The program scheduled for 2011 will focus on astronomy and meteorology/climatology.

Funds for this Wisconsin Improving Teacher Quality Program are made available under Title II of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Participating Wisconsin teachers, school districts, grade(s) taught:
Antigo – Ann Anderson, fourth; Cynthia Walrath, first
Clintonville – Linda Kirchner, third; Kathryn Moser, third
Crivitz – Susan Morrison, fourth
Green Bay – Kelly Agen, fourth; Pamela Dellise, fourth; Amber Funmaker, third; Jennie Lambrecht, fourth; Nancy Mather, third; Connie Vang, fourth
Howards Grove – Shari Vogel, first
Kaukauna – Caryn Rosenbeck, second; Jessica Ullmer, fourth
Menominee Tribal – Brian Holt, fifth; Daniel Negro, fourth
Nekoosa – Juanita Kirst, first; Jeanne Peterson, third
Northwood – Denise Johansen, second; Nancy Nielcen, sixth
Oshkosh – Jaclyn Blake, first; Melissa Bowman, kindergarten; James Warren, fifth
Pulaski – Jared Bankson, second; Melissa Lange, fifth
Royall – Susan Heesch, third; Sheena Scannell, fourth
Stevens Point – Joan Curti, fifth and sixth; Gail Roth, fifth and sixth
Waupaca – Valerie Ceranske, third; Claire Ellie, second
Wautoma – Debra Reynolds, third
UW-Green Bay pre-service teachers – Kam Dama, Josh Dart, Amanda Koepke, Amy Pulvermacher

The Einstein Project is a nonprofit organization partnering with schools and communities to provide leadership and support for science education in Wisconsin. The organization offers 41 inquiry-based science units, developed by the Smithsonian Institution and National Academy of Sciences, to schools giving children the opportunity to learn by doing. The units allow schools to provide an exemplary hands-on science curriculum for students. The eight to twelve week units contain enough materials for an entire class and are leased to schools for a modest fee. For more see: www.einsteinproject.org/

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