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1999-28 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 1999

Teachers Discover Research Excitement by Working alongside Atmospheric Scientists

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

BOULDER -- Middle- and high-school teachers from rural areas across the state are returning to Boulder for the final summer session of LEARN: Atmospheric Science Explorers. LEARN, which stands for Laboratory Experience in Atmospheric Research at NCAR, is bringing 38 teachers from eight Colorado school districts together with scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, June 7-25. The teachers and scientists are collaborating on ways to introduce the excitement and challenge of scientific discovery into the classroom. The participating school districts are Craig, Grand Junction, Montrose/Gunnison, San Luis Valley, Bayfield/Ignacio, Sterling, Lamar, and Springfield. Both LEARN and NCAR are sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

"It's been one of the most rewarding classes that I've had the opportunity to take," says Debra Frazier, a returning teacher from Craig Intermediate School. "The scientists at NCAR are really stimulating, warm, friendly people. They love what they do, and they love to share it with people. Their curiosity for science is really contagious."

This is the final summer workshop in the three-year program, which is cohosted by NCAR and the University of Colorado Science Discovery program. Hands-on activities, lectures by NCAR researchers, and three days spent working alongside the scientists in their laboratories give the teachers first-hand experience in the process of scientific investigation. This year's focus on atmospheric chemistry includes the examination of ozone as a beneficial chemical in the stratosphere as well as a source of air pollution at ground level. The teachers will also consider the complexity of interactions among the atmosphere, ecosystems, oceans, and human activities.

LEARN alumna Judy Lee, a Texas City, Texas, science teacher and nominee for a Presidential Teaching Award, will share successful projects with the current group. Using a teaching module developed through LEARN, Lee's students created ground-level ozone measuring devices out of simple materials (cornstarch, potassium iodide, and filter paper). The students measured levels throughout their community, researched the effects of ozone exposure, discussed ways to clean up the problem, and stirred community interest in their findings. To learn about the harmful effects of ozone, Lee's eighth graders collaborated with first graders on an experiment. Bean plants grown by the first graders were exposed to ozone by the older children, who then taught the first graders to use microscopes to examine the plant cells for ozone-caused damage.

Many LEARN teachers have incorporated more hands-on activities and more focus on weather into their classroom instruction. "There's a lot of sharing of ideas," says Dave Reddish, who teaches sixth grade in Montrose. "We've come to know the LEARN people very well and bonded with the other teachers in the project." By overcoming geographic isolation and providing new resources, the summer workshops create a larger community for the rural science teachers and encourage them to play a leadership role in implementing Colorado's statewide standards. "All of what we're teaching fits with state standards," explains LEARN director Carol McLaren. "Weather and the atmosphere provide an ideal framework for teaching basic concepts in science and mathematics. Science also provides a wonderful jumping-off place for language arts, because you're giving students an interesting topic to read and write about."

During the school year, LEARN staff and NCAR researchers travel around the state, extending the impact of the program by presenting follow-up activities to additional teachers as well as students, parents, and administrators in the participating districts. About 650 additional teachers are being reached through the in-service trainings, presentations by the LEARN lead teachers, and informal sharing. For example, this fall LEARN plans to take NCAR's weather van and a weather- balloon specialist to communities on the Western Slope. By bringing NCAR researchers into the schools, "we're helping the LEARN teachers share their experiences with other teachers in their districts and regions," says McLaren.

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NCAR engineer Ned Chamberlain shows students at Liberty School in Joes, Colorado, how weather balloons are launched. The visit was sponsored by LEARN, a program to enhance science education sponsored by NCAR and the University of Colorado.

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-The End-

Note to Editors: Reporters may schedule workshop visits through David Hosansky: 303-497-8611.

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The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by UCAR under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any of UCAR's sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.
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Last revised: Fri Apr 7 15:38:50 MDT 2000
Last revised: Fri Jun 4 10:48:32 MDT 1999