The "Let's Explore Applied Physical Science" (LEAPS) program will build on the successful GK-12 model established at UCSB in 2002. LEAPS graduate and undergraduate science and engineering Fellows will work in interdisciplinary teams with science and math teachers at 3 local junior high/middle schools to deliver discovery-oriented instruction in Physical Science. In addition to classroom innovations, LEAPS will organize after-school science clubs and science fair project mentorship by Fellows and volunteer graduate students and will participate in an "Ask-a-Scientist" internet project. LEAPS Family Science Nights at each school will engage parents in discussion of Fellow and student interactions.

Intellectual Merit: The LEAPS program will create a community of research scientists and engineers who have expertise in effective teaching of inquiry-based instruction, supportive mentorship, and accessible communication of science and technology to the general public. LEAPS will enrich K-12 student science experiences through individualized engagement in scientific inquiry and mentorship by Fellows. LEAPS will explore the capacity of university researchers to become effective role models for Junior High School students.

Broader Impacts: LEAPS teachers will gain new resources for classroom activities; help with mentoring science fair projects, and mechanisms for engaging parents. LEAPS will partner with 3 local schools with sizable Latino populations to deliver innovative science instruction to 8th grade students. In California, grade 8 Science is the last science course that all students must take, and therefore has great importance on their college tracking path. Thus, mentorship and role modeling for students is an essential focus of this project. Institutionalization efforts will increase faculty participation, develop community, industrial and university support, and cultivate an expanded network of UCSB volunteers. LEAPS will create a new course, "Science for the Public: Communication and Mentoring", which will engage the greater UCSB community in seminars on public perceptions of science and scientists, and in mentoring field-work in K-12 schools. Evaluation will focus on long-term tracking of student attitudes towards science and on measures of student performance. Participants will provide feedback on their LEAPS experience and how it shapes their educational and career progress. Program impacts and evaluation findings will be disseminated by LEAPS Fellows, Teachers, Evaluator and PI's through campus newsletters, local media, a LEAPS seminar series at UCSB, presentations at professional education and science conferences, and publications in science education journals.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Graduate Education (DGE)
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Sonia Ortega
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University of California Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara
United States
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