Goal. Systemic conversion of elementary science education in the Atlanta Public
Schools to an inquiry-centered, constructivist approach through the use of kit-based
modules and the provision of appropriate professional development--and some classroom
Scope. The science education program is designed for all classrooms in the APS's
70 K-5 elementary schools. Approximately 1,700 teachers and 35,000 pupils are involved.
Introduction of three kit-based instructional modules into every classroom is to be
completed by the year 2000.
Instructional Materials and Program. The
instruction has a hands-on, inquiry-centered approach, based on introducing three
kit-based modules per grade level, in one or two grade levels at a time, with the highest
grades going first.
The modules are from three National Science Foundation -supported, national curriculum
projects: Full Option Science System, the Science and Technology for Children Program, and
Training of Teachers and Lead Teachers. ESEP staff
and a team of science lead teachers known as Science, Knowledge, Inquiry, Leadership
(SKIL) teachers provide professional development inservices for APS classroom teachers. A
new group of SKIL teachers is trained each year through participation in 80-hour summer
SKIL Institutes and 10 school-year training days.
Science Partners. Many teachers are supported 3-4 hours
per week by "science- partners," who are science-literate undergraduates
(usually science or pre-med majors) drawn from the six ESEP institutions with
undergraduates. The science partners are trained at their institutions in the inquiry
approach to learning science and also meet once a week throughout each semester in
"reflection sessions" with science-faculty mentors and outstanding APS
elementary school teachers. A cultural anthropologist works with the undergraduates during
these sessions, as well.
Roles of Scientists. The principal investigator (PI) of
the ESEP project is a cell biologist/biophysicist and professor at Emory University School
of Medicine. His three co-PIs are an administrator from the Morehouse School of Medicine,
a science educator from Georgia State University, and the APS Superintendent. A cultural
anthropologist helps in the training of teachers and science partners. Other faculty
scientists serve as scientist-mentors for the undergraduate science partners
and APS teachers.
Participatory Reform. Because attempts at
systemic reform work best when key stakeholders become vested in the change process,
special efforts are being made under the guidance of a cultural anthropologist to ensure
that teachers and administrators are active participants in the reform process. In
addition, all of the participants are helped to become sensitive to the great diversity of
the APS student population as well as of the science partners, mentors, and APS personnel.
Materials Support Center. APS operates a central facility for procuring, refurbishing and distributing science kits to
teachers. Kits delivered in ready-to-teach condition within a few days after teachers
receive training, and remain in the classroom for approximately 10 weeks.
Assessment. The ESEP program includes a commitment to assess the success of the
program with APS teachers, students, and ESEP science partners. In addition to National
Science Foundation-mandated surveys and questionnaires, evaluation methods include
observations in classrooms and professional development workshops, questionnaires for
teachers and administrators, and workshop evaluation feedback forms. Data are also
collected from teacher ratings of science partners, science partner ratings of teachers,
and science partner reflection sessions.
Special assessment projects focus on classroom observations of lead teachers, recorded
interviews with teachers and administrators, and tests of fifth-grade student attitudes
Chronology. The scope, number of players, and many
novel features of the ESEP program make a chronology of highlights instructive.
Organizational Information and Contacts. A detailed
description is provided here of the ESEP consortium and its leadership, staff, funding,