The KITES project, managed by a partnership between Rhode Island College and the East Bay Educational Collaborative (EBEC), is implementing an integrated, hands-on, kit-based science curriculum in the eight school districts in EBEC. The project makes a long-term commitment to bringing this curriculum into the middle and high schools.
The project is organized in accordance with the National Science Resource Center's five essential components for systemic change: 1) curriculum which includes modular, inquiry-centered science kits, 2) professional development, 3) materials support system, 4) assessment methods for evaluating student performance, and 5) administrative and community support. KITES also focuses on computer technology, which includes telecommunications and teacher preparation programs. The goals of KITES are to replace the current science textbook approach with a hands-on, inquiry-centered, core science curriculum and to nurture changes in understanding, values, practices and policies that lead to a significantly different system.
During the project, elementary teachers receive at least 100 hours of professional development and resources necessary to deliver exemplary inquiry-centered science instruction. KITES allows teachers to work cooperatively with academic and industry scientists and engineers in order to teach science more effectively. Science professionals remain linked with the teachers via the Internet throughout the project to build ongoing support and leadership for systemic change. A web site is also being developed for teachers and students to link the kit science themes to the vast resource of the Internet.
KITES is aligning the assessment of science with the inquiry-centered curriculum and is working towards an integrated curriculum where hands-on science is the building block for writing, reading, computing and other basic skills. Teachers are empowered to make instructional decisions and a culture of support is created at the school level.
A materials supply system under the technical assistance of the Boston Federal Reserve Banks is being established for replenishing and distributing the kits to the 52 schools. The kits consist of modules from NSF-supported curriculum: Full Option Science System (FOSS), EDC-Insights and Science and Technology for Children.
Unique to this project is the linking of students in pre-service teacher preparation programs with project teachers where they co-teach, engaging students in problem solving and a case-oriented approach to teaching and learning. KITES is also building partnerships with science-rich institutions such as Roger Williams Park Zoo and the Museum of Natural History.