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BEAMS: Instructional Activities and Materials

Nearly 20 activities in the physical sciences and mathematics have been developed for the BEAMS program. The focus of the activities reflects the kind of science done at the Jefferson Lab (mainly physics).

Most of the activities were developed initially by BEAMS Project Director Dr. Beverly Karplus Hartline and Ms. Kathryn Strozak, a former teacher turned scientist, who once worked at the lab. Dr. Hartline's father, the physicist and science educator, Dr. Robert Karplus, was a developer of the elementary science education curriculum called SCIS Science Curriculum Improvement Study.

Hartline and Strozak developed the activities on the basis of ideas from many sources to satisfy the following criteria: the activities must use concepts that students have learned about in school; they must involve teamwork; they must be related to the Jefferson Lab in some way; and they must be interesting, exciting, and fun.

After the initial development phase, other lab staff, such as Dr. Fred Dylla, added finishing touches to some of the activities, such as "Hot and Cold," which involves both the coldness of liquid nitrogen and the extreme heat of plasmas. Since the activities relate to the development of the lab and its research, lab staff have continued to play a critical role in ensuring that they are both accurate and logistically easy to replicate in classrooms.

In the three years after the initial develoment of the activities, six teachers also reviewed, revised, and even developed additional activities for BEAMS. This phase included observation of the activities as they were actually taught to visiting classes. It is instructive to note that every single BEAMS activity in use today is different from its original version.

A set of activity sheets for students and a BEAMS Teacher Book now exist for use by volunteers in learning how to lead an activity and by teachers who might lead some of the activities in classrooms not acquainted with the BEAMS experience or the lab.

Of the nearly 20 activities, nine can currently be viewed and downloaded by accessing the BEAMS Website.

Currently under consideration for development are life-science activities for the 7th graders and physics activities for the 8th graders.

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