95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

OOS 42-7 - Saint Joseph's University GK-12 and beyond: Institutionalizing science education outreach

Thursday, August 5, 2010: 10:10 AM
315-316, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Karen Snetselaar1, Susan Glassman2, Michael McCann1, Mary Dana Semos2, Scott McRobert1 and Becky Mathers Lowery1, (1)Biology, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA, (2)Wagner Free Institute of Science, Philadelphia, PA
The GK-12 activities at Saint Joseph’s University involve MS students in hands-on science lessons for children in grades 1-5 in Philadelphia schools. A third essential partner in the activities is a natural history museum, the Wagner Free Institute of Science, and their children’s education staff provide the expertise in elementary education. University science faculty, teachers, Fellows and WFIS staff work together to create and modify year-long curriculum units that incorporate state and national standards as well as meeting school district requirements. All partners annually meet in a summer workshop to orient new participants, focus on particular content areas, and plan the coming year.  
We are sustaining GK-12 type activities in several ways. We have been successful in securing partial funding for some graduate Fellows through a significant grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and smaller amounts of funding for teacher development from several other sources. Additional support for Fellows comes from partial stipend support from the graduate school. Other funding has come from internal grants designed to promote outreach activities. In order to extend hands-on science to more children, the Fellows funded by HHMI are also involved in mentoring undergraduate science majors in service learning. SJU has been strongly supportive of GK-12 type activities, and has pledged matching funds for multiple grant proposals that we have written. Matching funds for a project manager have been especially important. For us one key factor has been the willingness to incorporate service learning into the activities. For several years now we have been teaching a one-credit Science Education Service Learning course that allows undergraduate science students to spend several hours a week helping Fellows and teachers do hands-on science in elementary school classrooms. Students taking any upper level science course can participate, and they come together for weekly sessions that incorporate practice in writing standards-based lessons, reflection components, and discussions about challenges facing urban teachers and students. The service learning infrastructure at SJU has become increasingly supportive as we have shown the efficacy of this model.