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Fulcrum Institute Seeks participation from other MSPs

Dear Fellow MSP Project, There is a relatively new doctoral program here at Tufts University run by a steering committee from the Education, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering departments and housed in the Education department. The focus of the program is a better understanding of why so much of science and mathematics instruction is both poorly transmitted and poorly received.

Under the aegis of this program Tufts received a grant four years ago to develop a series of hybrid (mixed online/face-to-face) courses in science for elementary and middle school teachers, primarily in high needs districts. We have developed, taught and revised three courses, "Some of What Matters About Matter", "Conceptual Distinctions: The Case of Heat and Temperature" and "Earth's Energy Balance". These courses are now part of a master's program for inservice elementary school teachers who want to specialize in science education.

We have found elementary school teachers to be a largely science- and math-phobic audience. Many of them are ill-trained (if at all) in science. 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 choose a few generative themes [the role of models in science, the intertwined nature of science and mathematics, the particulate nature of matter] and use 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 and teachers learn to listen carefully to their students ideas.

See for example -

All the MSP projects are doing important things in areas of science and math education. We here at Fulcrum are beginning to look for people who work with elementary teachers in the areas of science and math who may be interested in augmenting the repertoire of materials and approaches they use. The materials, of course are available without charge, but we would like to introduce the materials to people who are interested in using them by doing a one or two day workshop in person. We will be asking the NSF to support this effort with a small grant for travel.

Does all this warrant further conversation? If so, please let us know. We will try to convene a meeting of interested folk in Washington on one side or the other of the annual MSP meeting in January.

Click Here to Contact the Fulcrum Institute