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
schools and high