Rutgers Family Science
14 Sep 1998 21:29:02 -0000

As director of the Center for Family Involvement in Schools at Rutgers
University, I have directed the Rutgers Family Science program since its
beginnings at Rutgers in 1987.

The development of the program began as a coperative effort among Rutgers
Consortium for Educational Equity, Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ
and Northwest Equals, wtih funding from the NJ Department of Higher
Education under the Dwight D. Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education
Program. During the first year NORthwest Equals provided training and
activities that were fieldtested and evaluated by participating NJ teachers.

In subsequent years, innovations were made to the program to respond to
State and local constraints, based on five years of rigorous evaluation by
Campbell-Kilber Associates.
The evaluation results were most positive, indicating that it is a program
that"turns kids on to science."

We have produced a comprehensive 477 page Rutgers Family Science Teacher's
Manual in English and Spanish, and have recently alligned all of the
acitivites to national and state science standards.

I am sending as an attachment a full description of the program and its
evaluation that I would appreciate your sending out to the Equity Listserve
members so that they will be aware of this amazing multi-cultural equity
program in which over 17,000 children and their families in NJ,
NY,PA,Louisiana & the Virgin Islands have participated.

Please let me know if I can provide any additional information.
Arlene S. Chasek

Proposal to American Chemical Society : Rutgers Family Science Leadership
author Marvin Chasek

Rutgers Family Science is a professional development program for
elementary teachers that, since 1998, has been a catalyst in creating
unique opportunities for over children and their families in urban,
suburban and rural communities to come back to their schools in the
evening to engage in exciting, mind-stretching voyages of discovery
that we call science. In addition, the program has also included special
(funded by the American Chemical Society) at New Jersey museums to provide
additional family-focused, out-of-school scientific experiences.

A unique and special strength of the Rutgers program stems from the
participation of trainers/mentors who themselves are elementary teachers
actively involved in conducting Family Science sessions in their own schools.
The majority of the current Rutgers teacher-trainers completed one or two
30-hour Leadership Institutes and have mentored as well as trained new teachers
at least once or twice a year since that time. Several others completed a
one-year internship program. Another unique aspect of the program is the
Rutgers Family Science Teachers quote Manual (available in English & Spanish)
that integrates equity, careers and multi-cultural connections
. There is a parent/child section, plus a Facilitator Section with Tips,
Modifications, Extensions, Science-Content material for each of the hands-on

Rutgers Family Science presents science as something one does, rather than a
body of facts and procedures that one masters. The focus is experiential in
order for children and their parents to problem solve and learn science
together; it stresses the of scientific thinking rather than specific content

Using motivational science activities infused with a variety of multicultural,
gender and career extensions, Rutgers Family Science specifically targets
underrepresented children and their families. The underpinning of the program
is equity. We can no longer afford to think that only a few elite students are
going to be good at science. The joy of learning and the wonder of scienti
fic discovery are too frequently lost in attempts to sort out those who are
bright from those who are not really serious about science. The Rutgers
program is committed to the principle that our country does not have a single
child to waste; not one future parent or teacher or scientist; not one
productive citizen of the United States.

Rutgers Family Science has been developed to be a afterschool program supported
by the school or school district. After training, teachers recruit children and
families and conduct six Family Science sessions in their schools with support
and attendance at sessions by the school principal.

Each school has six two-hour parent-child sessions serve an average of 15-20
families or about 20 adults and 20 children. In these sessions, parents are
given overviews of the scientific topics and a connection is usually made to
future careers in the area of science to be explored. Then parents and
children work together in small groups to share insights, to solve problems,
to talk and do science, and to play with scientific principles in a
supportive, cooperative atmosphere reinforcing the relevance of s
cience to students futures. After class, the discovery and fun can continue
since materials for activities are given to families to take home

Children and adults explore, make observations, classify, measure, make
predictions, test ideas, ask questions, do experiments, look at variables and
are actively involved in discovering the world around them in ways that
resemble how scientists go about their work. After they complete the activity,
families learn how to interpret data and draw conclusions. They learn that the
essence of science is curiosity, inventiveness, critical thinking and
persistence. While everyone is having fun, they are actually learning science
process skills, thinking scientifically and learning about the contributions to
science from many different cultures.

While all the Rutgers Family Science sessions focus on developing the skills of
scientific investigation, the fifth session specifically emphasizes career and
societal applications. Women and ethnic and racial minorities in s
cience-based occupations are invited to talk about their
work and demonstrate the role science plays in career
choices. Other activities emphasize the importance of
continuing science in high school and beyond. In
addition, there is a special emphasis in all the
sessions to debunk the still pervasive stereotype of a
scientist as a white, male, brilliant, but absent-minded
nerd. Because the scientific and engineering
professions have been predominantly male and white, many
girls and children of color still feel that scientific
fields are unsuited to them.

Evaluation of Rutgers Family Science
The Rutgers program has been rigorously evaluated by Campbell-Kibler Associates,
Groton, Massachusetts, and shows evidence of substantial
impact. The evaluation results indicate that the program turns kids and their
parents on to science. The training sessions continue to be oversubscribed,
i.e., more teachers apply than can be accommodated each year, and more families
have asked to participate than the teachers can accommodate in their schools.

The evaluators reported that the Rutgers program not only helps girls and boys
like and succeed in science, but also encourages and increases the confidence
and competence of both elementary teachers and parents who often may feel
uncomfortable with their lack of scientific knowledge. The program assists
teachers and parents to recognize the importance of encouraging questioning
and risk taking in children, and ultimately, seems to help them take
calculated risks and get a better understanding of science for themselves. The
evaluators summary included the following statements:
Teachers report a change in doing classroom science activities as well. They
spend more time on science, do more hands-on inquiry and reduce their reliance
on the use of the textbook alone. Teachers also do more career-related
activities with role models and include more multicultural science connections
as well. Parents report that the program increased their children
s interest in doing science and scientific things both in and out of school;
Girls as well as boys indicate that they like to do science and want to be more
actively engaged.

Rutgers Family Science teacher training sequence continues to be oversubscribed.
All of the 1998 training slots are filled and we are accepting applications
for 1999 trainings. The reputation of the program continues to grow both from
word of mouth, presentations at national and regional conferences; and from the
publicity generated by the 1996 Golden Apple Award
The Center for Family Involvement in Schools received from the US Department of
Education for the high quality parental involvement training programs
we conduct. In recent months applications and interest in the program have
come from many new groups: several New Jersey corporations enrolled employees
in the Family Science training in order to conduct Family Science classes for
other employees and their children.

For further information, contact: \par
Arlene S. Chasek, Director
Center for Family Involvement in Schools, Rutgers University
(732) 445-1287 or

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