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Other CAPSI Initiatives

The CAPSI/Pasadena partnership has been involved in a number of other initiatives to improve K-12 science education--conducting research on how to improve K-6 pedagogy as well as methods of K-6 assessment, developing modules for improving elementary school teachers' understanding of certain science topics, and, last, developing hands-on, inquiry-centered materials for middle and high schools.

Pedagogy. Under an Eisenhower grant, CAPSI's Jennifer Yure formed 10 pedagogy groups of teachers, scientists, and resource teachers to do research on what works and what doesn't in the classroom. Consulting was Dr. Karen Worth, a nationally known expert on science pedagogy from Wheelock College and the Education Development Center. Results were presented in poster sessions. One conclusion was that to make this type of research more effective, one needs to be able to assess better what children learn in the classroom.

Assessment. With the same Eisenbhower grant and with Dr. Gail Baxter, a national expert on assessment from the University of Michigan, CAPSI formed a number of assessment groups over the course of two years. Each group had three teachers, one resource teacher, and one scientist that met on a regular basis with Baxter to develop imbedded and end -of- year assessments for the science modules adopted by Pasadena. Every six months, the groups presented their results in a poster session. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the teachers involved have improved their own in-class assessment procedures. At present, Baxter and her graduate students are continuing to work with CAPSI's Center to develop additional assessments. Although many of the instructional modules adopted by CAPSI come with assessments for teachers to use, CAPSI leaders believe it is also important to improve on them.

Content Modules for Elementary Science. In another NSF-funded project, teachers from the Pasadena Unified School District and scientists from Caltech are developing a series of Content Modules for Elementary Science for teachers. The content of these modules focuses on content elementary school teachers working with CAPSI have expressed the greatest interest in.

So far, the module developers have authored two modules, Animals and Electricity, and these have been trial taught to a group of elementary school teachers as well as pilot taught to additional groups of teachers at several sites across the country. Now two more modules are under development--Floating, Sinking, and Dissolving, and Force, Motion, and Machines. And the project is studying ways to disseminate the modules, possibly through school districts that have won Local Systemic Change grants from the National Science Foundation. School districts that have tested the modules seem to be interested in disseminating them to other districts in their areas, also.

Science Education in Middle and High Schools. There is a great need for genuine hands-on, inquiry-centered, instructional materials and for teachers with the background, time, and equipment to use them at the middle-and high-school levels. School districts that have altered their elementary school science programs have found that children who have learned science through inquiry continue as they grow older to want to learn more science, and in this fashion. Caltech scientists and Pasadena master teachers are now actively engaged in developed hands-on, inquiry-centered materials for Pasadena's middle schools and high schools.


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