TO: Editors, writers and producers
FROM: Carolyn Conway
DATE: August 6, 1997
SUBJECT: Strengthening the Bond Between Science and the Science Teacher
Every summer, a group of top research scientists and secondary school science teachers are drawn together by a common bond–illustrating for students the excitement of scientific discovery and how science relates to everyday life. An intensive program based at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, gives them the tools to do just that. From chemistry to genetics, these science teachers receive hands-on experience working with some of the most noted scientists in the country through The Summer Research Program for Secondary School Science Teachers. The program places those teachers in Columbia laboratories where they work as lab assistants conducting actual research on DNA, genetics, retroviruses, the atmosphere, and more.
The program, founded in 1989 by Samuel Silverstein, M.D., the John C. Dalton Professor and chairman of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia, was established to improve science education by enhancing teachers’ understanding of science. This year marks the first time Columbia University, in collaboration with six similar Scientific Work Experience Programs for Teachers (SWEPTs), is developing a proposal to evaluate how such programs affect students.
“By experiencing `science in action,’ teachers learn that this profession requires a variety of skills,” says Silverstein. “There are many opportunities in science for students with excellent observational and manual skills, and those with mathematical and conceptual skills.”
To date, more than 56 high school and six middle school science teachers form New York have successfully completed two years of research as participants in the Columbia program. In addition to their full-time lab research, participants attend weekly seminars that Columbia faculty and guest speakers present. Toward the end of the nine-week program, teachers summarize their research work at a group presentation, and develop lesson and action plans for incorporating their research experience into hands-on exercises for their students.
The Columbia University program is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Foundation for Microbiology, the New York Times Foundation, Bristol Myers-Squibb, the Greenwall Foundation, American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Bay Foundation, Chase Manhattan Bank, the Charles Edison Fund, and the JM Kaplan Fund.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please call Carolyn Conway at 212-305-4243.