Scientists seek to increase science literacy

Jul 18, 2011

A scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and colleague at Emory University are seeking to persuade the National Science Foundation to reevaluate its decision to cancel a program that has placed 10,000 science graduate students in more than 6,000 K-12 public schools across the country.

In an editorial in the July 15 issue of the journal Science, UAF biology professor Richard Boone and Emory University professor Pat Marsteller advocate for developing an enhanced version of NSF's Graduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fellows in K-12 Education, or GK-12, program.

The program gives five-year grants that typically support eight to 10 graduate students a year. UAF received a five-year GK-12 grant in 2010 to place 10 graduate students per year in classrooms in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the remote Southeast Islands School District in Thorne Bay.

"Young, dynamic scientists are spending 10 hours a week bringing their own research into the classroom and engaging K-12 students in original scientific investigations," said Boone who is the principal investigator for UAF's GK-12 program. "This program is a highly effective and captivating way to improve for K-12 students and their teachers, and it benefits graduate students by improving their teaching skills."

Boone notes that no other program explicitly provides what the GK-12 program does. He and Marsteller suggest developing a "GK-12 enhanced" program that has an explicit interdisciplinary focus for graduate students, promotes connections with other federal agencies such as NASA and the National Institutes of Health, and tracks effects on K-12 students' learning as well as benefits for the graduate students.

"It's important to get and their teachers excited and knowledgeable about science now because by the time students are undergraduates it can be too late," Boone said. "Compared to their peers, the GK-12 fellows are more engaged in research and better able to explain STEM concepts to nontechnical audiences."

Boone also notes that an external, independent review of the program in 2010 found "substantial and credible evidence" that the program was achieving its goals. Boone and Marsteller contend that the program has been a powerful force for improving education in the United States and that it's time to take the program to the next level.

Explore further: Best of Last Week – Detecting dark matter with GPS, a gel that stops bleeding and the benefits of fasting

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA awards Oklahoma an education grant

Mar 31, 2008

The U.S. space agency has awarded an education grant to Oklahoma State University to encourage high school students to pursue careers in science.

Closing the Achievement Gap in Math and Science

May 02, 2008

The latest results from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program show not only improved proficiency among all elementary and middle school students, but also a closing ...

Doctoral candidate publishes on graphene's potential

Nov 18, 2010

Since graphene was first isolated in 2004 with the help of Scotch tape, researchers have excitedly turned to the material to discover its potential applications. A single layer of carbon atoms whose applications range from ...

Recommended for you

James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

20 hours ago

Missed the chance to bid on Francis Crick's Nobel Prize when it was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million? No worries, you'll have another chance to own a piece of science history on Dec. 4, when James D. Watson's 1962 ...

Engineers develop gift guide for parents

Nov 21, 2014

Faculty and staff in Purdue University's College of Engineering have come up with a holiday gift guide that can help engage children in engineering concepts.

Former Brown dean whose group won Nobel Prize dies

Nov 20, 2014

David Greer, a doctor who co-founded a group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent nuclear war and who helped transform the medical school at Brown University, has died. He was 89.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.