Twenty-first Century pre-college science teachers face unprecedented challenges in preparing U.S. students for, and interesting them in, careers in science and technology. Neuroscience poses special challenges for these teachers since few of them study neuroscience in college. Yet, advances in our understanding of the human nervous system have practical implications for their teaching practices, and are of importance to their students'education. To elevate teachers'neuroscience knowledge, Professor Amy MacDermott (P.I.) has joined forces with Professor Samuel Silverstein, Founder of Columbia University's Summer Research Program for Science Teachers (SRP), to expand opportunities allowing New York metropolitan area K-12 science teachers to participate in high quality, focused and sustained research experiences and professional development in the neurosciences. Teachers selected for support through NIH's Summer Research Experience Programs solicitation (PAR-11-050, CFDA 93.853) will perform hands-on research for eight weeks in each of two consecutive summers under the mentorship of NINDS-supported Columbia University neuroscientists (86 Columbia faculty currently receive NINDS support). Teachers will be full members of their laboratory's research team. In addition, they will participate one full day/week in Columbia University Summer Research Program's demonstrably successful professional development activities. Designed specifically for science teachers, these special pedagogical sessions include science seminars led by faculty from Columbia and other science-rich institutions, workshops in molecular modeling, data-driven instruction, lesson plan development, peer coaching and practice teaching. The program provides breakfast and lunch on professional development days, thereby encouraging informal interactions between participants. By the end of each summer the group has coalesced into an effective Professional Learning Community. Columbia's SRP is a world leader in documenting program effectiveness in promoting teacher retention, in stimulating teachers to implement more hands-on classroom and laboratory exercises, and in improving student achievement in science (Science 326:440- 442, 2009). In the academic years following teacher participation in the program, 10.1% more of their students (a 22.9% increase) passed a New York State Regents science exam than in the academic year preceding their entry into it, or than students of non-participating teachers in the same school in the same years.
To elevate pre-college science teachers'neuroscience knowledge, and assist them in providing current health sciences instruction to their students, Columbia University's Summer Research Program for Science Teachers will provide the teachers with high quality, focused and sustained research experiences and professional development in the neurosciences. The teachers will perform hands-on research under the mentorship University neuroscientists.