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Winter 1999

Next LEARN project seeks academic partners

by Zhenya Gallon

Teachers Suzanne Vail, Dave Reddish, and Roxann Hall enjoyed their NCAR lab experience during LEARN.

The creators of LEARN (Laboratory Experience in Atmospheric Research at NCAR) are looking for possible participants in a new project, still under development, that calls for collaboration with UCAR academic affiliates and other interested institutions. The project will draw on the expertise of both science and education faculty to broaden LEARN's ability to enhance K-12 instruction in atmospheric and related sciences.

With funding from NSF's Teacher Enhancement Program, two prior three-year programs have brought middle and high school science teachers to Boulder for three weeks each summer to collaborate with NCAR and UOP scientists. The mentoring relationship between scientists and teachers has been a hallmark of LEARN. The new project calls for faculty at participating colleges to join with LEARN professional staff, NCAR/UOP scientists, and educators at the University of Colorado's Science Discovery program to provide training and resources for K-12 teachers in school districts near the partner institutions.

According to Karon Kelly, director of Information Support Services at NCAR, each participating site would provide a core leadership team consisting of at least two faculty members--one content expert and one education expert--and lead teachers from local districts. These educators would work with NCAR scientists at summer institutes each year. During the academic year, LEARN professional staff and the core teams would provide follow-up workshops in the school districts associated with each partner institution.

LEARN seeks to increase teachers' knowledge of atmospheric and earth sciences and to offer instructional methods and materials that engage students of diverse backgrounds and diverse learning styles. The program also helps teachers become leaders in science education in their districts. Collaborations among participating teachers, the LEARN professional staff, and NCAR and UOP scientists have led to the creation of teaching modules and other resources that have been incorporated into successive years of the program. The new proposal includes plans to develop these and other materials into Web-based resources accessible by teachers anywhere.

The first LEARN project trained 39 lead teachers from four states who then held workshops for an additional 1,300 teachers in their home districts. The second project, which will end this spring, includes collaboration with the Science Discovery program and focuses on teachers in rural Colorado. Each year, lead teachers, UCAR/NCAR scientists, and LEARN staff have offered three days of in-service training which have reached about 650 additional Colorado teachers. The proposal for the third project is slated for submission to NSF in August 2000, with startup aimed at late winter 2001.

Quarterly readers at UCAR academic affiliates and other institutions with both science and education faculty are encouraged to discuss with colleagues the possibility of becoming partners in the next LEARN project. For more information or to indicate interest in participation, contact Kelly at 303-497-1182; kkelly@ucar.edu.


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Last revised: Tue Apr 4 15:11:41 MDT 2000