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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Report Overview

author: MacGregor Kniseley, Jerry Kowalczyk
submitter: KITES Project: Kits in Teaching Elementary Science
published: 02/17/1998
posted to site: 02/17/1998

PI Annual Progress Report

The Kites Project

Local Systemic Change

(Covers Period December 15, 1996 - December 1, 1997)


MacGregor Kniseley
Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Professor, Rhode Island College


Gerald Kowalczyk
Co-Principal Investigator
Executive Director, East Bay Educational Collaborative

The KITES Project is funded in part by the National Science Foundation

The KITES Project is a five-year $5.6 million local systemic change project funded in part by a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is managed by a partnership between Rhode Island College and East Bay Educational Collaborative, a private, non-profit educational agency which serves the eight school districts along the Narraganset Bay in eastern Rhode Island.

The project provides 600 K-6 teachers from 52 East Bay schools and Henry Barnard School at Rhode Island College with at least 100 hours of professional development and resources necessary to deliver exemplary inquiry-centered science instruction to more than 13,400 students. The project links teacher preparation programs with K-12 education. And, it allows teachers to work with academic and industry scientists and engineers in order to teach science more effectively.

The project is organized in accordance with the five essential pillars of systemic change recommended by the National Science Resources Center:

  • Curriculum which includes modular, inquiry-centered science kits
  • Professional development
  • Materials support system
  • Assessment methods for evaluating student performance
  • Administrative and community support

In addition, there are two other pillars:

  • Computer technology which includes telecommunications
  • Teacher preparation programs

At one level, the project's goals are to replace the current science textbook approach with a hands-on, inquiry-centered, core science curriculum which includes modular units developed by Lawrence Hall of Science and the National Science Resources Center.

At another level, the goals of the project include nurturing changes in understanding, values, practices, and policies that lead to a significantly different system.

Major Accomplishments from May 1995-December 1997

  • developed teachers, parents, and children who are enthusiastic about the hands-on, inquiry-centered approach;
  • contained a project management team which is responsive to teachers' needs for varied, long-term, and coordinated professional development;
  • delivered standards-based professional development in which participants are engaged in purposeful activities. Professional development is designed to enhance teachers' understanding of important science concepts, processes, pedagogy, and to enhance their leadership skills;
  • developed a community of learners where K-6 teachers work together at grade levels across districts;
  • developed teachers who value the support of more than 100 academic and industry scientists who work side-by-side with them during professional development;
  • developed a cadre of scientists who serve as advocates of science education reform;
  • developed a group of 25 "lead teachers" representing a majority of the eight districts who will lead kit-specific professional development activities during the summer and academic year;
  • enrolled 69% of the targeted population (420 of 600 teachers) in KITES; added 165 K-6 teachers to the project in June 1997. 93% of teachers enrolled have completed more than 20 hours of professional development;
  • utilized two grants totaling $510,000 grant from Rhode Island Department of Education (Goals 2000 funds) to the East Bay Educational Collaborative to develop teachers' and administrators' understanding of performance-based assessment of learning in science and mathematics;
  • delivered services and materials equitably to teachers from all districts and Henry Barnard School at Rhode Island College. All schools have participating teacher;
  • acquired, inventoried, refurbished, and delivered two or three science kits to each of the K-6 participating teachers; continued the development of a 5,000 square foot building for a Materials Resource Center;
  • developed Internet web sites with connections to educational resources and a KITES Listserv;
  • involved 652 preservice college students who worked with NSF-funded instructional materials in elementary science methods classes at Rhode Island College, University of Rhode Island, and Roger Williams University. 310 college students worked directly with KITES teachers in using science kits;
  • continued partnerships with Roger Williams Park Zoo and Museum of Natural History for a KITES Day field trip experience for 6,555 East Bay K-6 students and 283 teachers; utilized expertise of personnel from local science centers such as Save The Bay, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and Brown University's NASA Space Grant program; and,
  • provided technical assistance to the University of Rhode Island's GEMS-NET project which is working to bring kit-based science and professional development to all K-8 teachers in five South County districts.