$113,000 Race to the Top grant funds chemistry workshop for local teachers
By Janel Shoun on 7/7/2011
Lipscomb University is one of six universities in the state, and the only private university, to be awarded a 2011 Race to the Top grant promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) professional development for public school teachers.
Lipscomb’s College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences will partner to offer Hands-On Chemistry, an innovative program providing 80 hours of enhanced content knowledge and the latest research-based teaching methods through chemistry, engineering and pharmacy topics.
Lipscomb received $113,027 through Race to the Top to conduct professional development for teachers in Davidson, Cheatham, Williamson, Sumner and Robertson counties.
Twenty-four teachers will attend a summer workshop in 2012 as well as participate in the program through on-line instruction and four additional Saturday sessions where parents and students will also be invited. In addition, participating teachers will receive a packet of curriculum materials, resources based on the most recent education research and chemistry equipment to use in their classroom.
“There has been a significant amount of research into teaching science over the years, and now we must focus on applying that research to the classroom,” said Deborah Boyd, associate dean of the College of Education and the co-project director of the Hands-on Chemistry program. “Hands-on Chemistry will show our teachers how to turn a science lab from a cookbook experience (where students simply follow instructions) to an inquiry-based lab, where students discover the concepts on their own through experimentation.
“Research shows this is the best learning method, and we want to make Tennessee a leader in inquiry-based learning,” she said.
From green technology to fuel cells and nanotechnology, Hands-On Chemistry will strive to help Tennessee’s teachers apply chemistry and mathematics to real-world technology through activity- and experiment-based professional development.
The program will place emphasis on connecting chemistry to health care and nuclear energy, two industries where Tennessee leads. The Lipscomb College of Pharmacy will guide teachers in projects connecting chemistry to pharmacology, and Lipscomb’s Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering will assist in demonstrating fundamental chemistry topics through nanotechnology, fuel cells and superconductors.
Teachers will also get an opportunity to tour Aegis Sciences Corporation to see chemistry in action through drug testing and sports and forensics, and “Science Saturdays” will teach best practices in conducting laboratory classes with parents and students invited to serve as the audience for the teachers learning new techniques.
The State of Tennessee has raised its graduation standards for students in public schools, requiring an additional science class for every high school student. Through the federal Race to the Top program, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission has awarded $1.8 million in grant money in 2011 for teacher professional development in STEM areas to help school districts meet these new science standards.
“The state was looking for programs that would combine strong science content with the latest research on teaching methods in the subject areas of most need, and state officials decided chemistry is certainly one of those areas with many students opting to take chemistry as their new science credit,” said Ben Hutchinson, Lipscomb chemistry professor and co-project director of Hands-On Chemistry. “The state wants to interweave STEM content, so Tennessee’s students understand how to use science, not just know science.”
For Davidson, Williamson, Cheatham and Robertson county teachers interested in applying for Hands-On Chemistry, contact Boyd at 615.966.6263. The program will begin August 2011. The summer workshop will take place in the summer of 2012.