Grad students in K-12 classrooms urged

July 18, 2011 at 9:44 PM
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska, July 18 (UPI) -- The National Science Foundation should reverse its decision to cancel a program that put science graduate students in public schools, two U.S. scientists say.

University of Alaska Fairbanks biology Professor Richard Boone and Emory University Professor Pat Marsteller are urging instead the development of an enhanced version of NSF's Graduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fellows in K-12 Education program, a release by the Institute of Arctic Biology said.

The G-12 program, as it is known, gives five-year grants and has put 10,000 science graduate students in more than 6,000 K-12 public schools across the country, they said.

"Young, dynamic scientists are spending 10 hours a week bringing their own research into the classroom and engaging K-12 students in original scientific investigations," said Boone, who heads the UAF's GK-12 program. "This program is a highly effective and captivating way to improve science education for K-12 students and their teachers, and it benefits graduate students by improving their teaching skills."

An external, independent review of the program in 2010 found "substantial and credible evidence" that the program was achieving its goals, he said.

"It's important to get elementary students and their teachers excited and knowledgeable about science now because by the time students are undergraduates it can be too late," Boone said.

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