Bill has addressed one of my concerns. What happens to these workable
programs when the funding has ceased. In "Partners in Science" we have
created a sustainability component and plan to post the program model on the
internet for others to replicate.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers are federally funded
after-school programs that meet a range of needs identified by that school
district. The funding is for three years. "Partners in Science" is just one
of the innovative programs the University of Oregon Youth Enrichment/TAG
program (YE/TAG) is providing to this consortium of school districts. The
actual on-site implementation of the "Partners" program by the YE/TAG
instructors is for one week. However, the materials, suggestions, and
training given in conjunction with this instruction should be adequate for
utilizing the techniques and ideas at the site throughout the year.
This month the YE/TAG instructors are working together (for $250 each < is
this an act of love?) to create the draft of a "cooperative learning model"
that includes elements we feel are important to meet our objectives.
(Remember that we are grouping together students from grades 4 through 8 in
a manner that all are engaged with learning science.) One such element is
the introduction of a range of careers that are associated with a science.
An example is Botany: flower arranging --> garden shops and nurseries -->
botanical illustrator --> botanist. Unless I'm working with students on the
fast track to a university (yes, elementary students with hyperactive
parents) I try to encourage the students to stay in math and science so that
they can move into a short-term educational program directly from high
school. This can be anything from the Master Gardners program through the
Extension Services to the one and two year occupational strands offered
through the community colleges. I try to keep in mind that the majority of
the rural area students come from homes where parents may not have graduated
from high school. If I talk "be a scientist with a PhD" this is going to be a
The sustainability comes from training a community member (not necessary to
be a teacher, but one who has some experience working with groups of kids)
to work with science within this model. The first year the community member
assists the teacher in whatever subject has been chosen. (The boys are
working with physics focusing on the topic of flight.) The second year this
assistant facilitates the class, with another community member as a helper.
Our teacher supervises this process. The third year the two community
members should be able to conduct the program on their own. We will be
monitoring this pilot program and adjusting the model as needed.
In this response I have tried to identify some of the elements I think are
important to consider as we discuss ways to influence young people to stay
in math and science:
1. Separation by sex with objectives specific to the interests and learning
styles of each. Start with a separation then move to a cooperative
2. Role models of both sexes and from a range of career occupations.
3. Involvement by community members.
4. Partnering with institutions, agencies, and organizations.
5. Involving parents (such as in Family Science and The Mother And Daughter
6. Training facilitators in achieving a student centered climate. Partners
is not a science class, consider it a warm-up session for the actual science
offerings at the school.
7. Beginning at least at the 4th grade level. My experience is that girls in 3rd
and 4th grade love science. By the 5th grade they are looking towards the
transition to middle school and start becoming more conscious of peer attitudes
< which can be disastrous to our mission if science is not considered to be
cool. Start building on the positive and create a
supportive (and fun) environment for girls in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.
8. Encouraging (possibly by providing school facilities for meetings)
establishment of and participation in programs such as Girls Inc., Girl
Scouts, AWSEM (Advocates for Women in Science Engineering and Math), etc.
9. Form partnerships between schools and the community colleges with the
outcome being mentoring programs, conferences, and other experiences for
students. (There are some great programs and partnerships in place in
I won't be elaborating on "Partners" any more during this dialogue. If
anyone wants to have periodic updates on the progress of this program, send
me your names, etc. personally at my email address below.
Mary Thompson -- firstname.lastname@example.org
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