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Fulcrum Institute seeks collaborating partners for second phase: moving to scale

To Our Colleagues in Other MSP Projects:

In 2004 the Fulcrum Institute was established to address the challenge of improving science education for elementary school students. Fulcrum received an MSP grant from the NSF to develop a series of hybrid (mixed online/face-to-face) courses in science and pedagogy for elementary and middle school teachers, primarily in high needs districts. Scientists and educators at Tufts University, in collaboration with curriculum developers from TERC, have developed, taught and revised three courses. The courses are "Some of What Matters About Matter," "Conceptual Distinctions: The Case of Heat and Temperature," and "Earth's Energy Balance." These courses are part of a master's degree program in Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for in-service elementary school teachers who want to specialize in science education.

In our experiences with the Fulcrum Institute participants, we have found many of the elementary and middle school teachers to be a somewhat science- and math-shy audience. Many teachers have had little or no college level course work in science, yet they are expected to teach topics ranging from botany and geology to physics and astronomy. We felt that any strategy that attempted to fill in all the lacunae in their backgrounds was probably doomed to failure. We chose, instead, to select a few generative themes [the role of models in science, the intertwined nature of science and mathematics, the particulate nature of matter, the nature of equilibrium, and energy transfer] and use each of these as a lens through which to explore a limited but linked body of phenomena. Science content is interleaved with science pedagogy throughout the courses. With teachers for whom the program is successful, intellectual curiosity is sparked. The teachers learn to listen carefully to their students ideas. You can get a flavor of the program by going to

As we approach the end of the first phase of the Fulcrum Institute we are seeking collaborating partners for a second phase of the project which will explore issues of "moving to scale", modification and/or adaption of the materials to other science and mathematics topics and the modes of development to other settings.

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of collaborating with us, please contact us so that we can jointly shape the next steps of a potential partnership.

Judah L. Schwartz, PI, Tufts University,

Sue Doubler, Co-PI, TERC,