Communication Center  Conference  Projects Share  Reports from the Field Resources  Library  LSC Project Websites  NSF Program Notes
 How to Use this site    Contact us  LSC-Net: Local Systemic Change Network
Newsclippings and Press Releases

LSC Reference Materials

LSC Case Study Reports

Annual Report Overviews

Summer Workshop Plans

Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: E=MC2
published: 12/10/1998
posted to site: 12/10/1998


This project, which began July 1, 1996, is about changing the way K-6 school children learn science. When this staff development initiative is completed, every K-6 classroom teacher, special education teacher, media specialist, computer teacher, elementary school principal, and assistant principal in our consortium of three New Jersey school districts (Ewing, Lawrence, and West Windsor-Plainsboro) will be implementing an inquiry approach to the teaching of elementary science.

The E=MC2 project is organized to support the teachers from three districts as they implement inquiry-based science. The focus of the project is the development of a training program to support an inquiry-based curriculum using materials that have been identified as exemplary by the National Science Foundation. A science materials center has been established to organize and maintain these materials. Key project personnel include a full-time coordinator and the three principal investigators. This program is supported at each site by a building coordinator and a cadre of mentors responsible for peer coaching.

This fundamental change will come through the following five key professional development components over a four-and-a-half year period:

  • intensive teacher training through summer institutes, providing 60 hours of instruction for each teacher over two years,

  • specific training in the use of kits through hands-on experience,

  • participation in regularly scheduled support/share groups at each site, mentoring/coaching throughout the school year, and

  • dedication of 1/2 in-service day each year to inquiry-based methodology and improving content knowledge.

Summary of Accomplishments

Support for science reform comes from the districts’ governing boards and their partners in the science community. Both the local districts and the scientific community have devoted substantial resources in professional services, materials, and financial support. The three districts have worked closely with Building Bridges to the Future, a partnership between the districts, corporations, universities, and science organizations. This partnership has been recognized with two major awards. The first one was the New Jersey Association of School Administrators Exemplary Program Award for school partnership programs. The second was the Precollege Education Winning Program Award given by the Industrial Research Institute.

One of the major accomplishments has been the high level of support that has been generated among teachers. This is no small achievement since it is a consequence of the activities described below and has a synergistic relationship with them.

One program component that has had a direct bearing on staff buy-in has been the appointment of building coordinators and mentors in each school. These individuals serve as liaisons between the grant administrators and the teaching staff so that staff has an accessible channel through which they can communicate problems and successes. Concerns about missing materials, scheduling of materials, or technical problems with kit implementation are quickly communicated and promptly addressed.

Thus, teachers are experiencing an unprecedented level of support. Another area that contributes to this high level of support is the development of a science materials center called Science To Go, located at the Roebling Invention Factory in Trenton, NJ. This center, which opened in September 1996, has established a kit refurbishment and support program. It has also added materials to kits at the request of staff and prepared some materials for use in order to reduce teacher preparation time. If materials are missing or broken, Science To Go replaces them within a 24 to 48 hour period. Such support is greatly appreciated by teachers and contributes to their enthusiastic support for the program.

This support was also enhanced by the development of a highly inclusionary process for the adoption of inquiry-based materials. Teachers played a significant role in devising selection criteria as well as in identifying kits to be piloted. Over 70 teachers in the project piloted new kits in 1995—1996 and over 85 piloted kits in 1996-1997. Additional pilots have been field tested for the 1997-1998 school year and the 1998-1999 school year. As a result of the pilots, kits have been adopted and are being phased in according to a schedule at each grade level.

The involvement of so many teachers in the adoption of inquiry-based materials would not be possible without significant in-service. Professional development activities began during the summer of 1996, and have included the following:

  • five day summer institutes dealing with inquiry learning that were conducted in July 1996, 1997 and June 1998;

  • a five-day summer institute dealing with assessment and the applications of technology to science instruction was conducted in July 1997 and 1998;

  • selection and training of teachers from the three districts to conduct summer institutes beginning in July 1997;

  • kit specific workshops that were provided for all teachers involved in the implementation of 29 new kits;

  • follow-up kit workshops that provided teachers with background information on the kits they were implementing.

1998 was a year of many accomplishments and attainment of goals. A program that was great got even better.

  • A "Superintendent + Science = Success Workshop" was held for all superintendents in Mercer County. Claire Sheff Kohn, Superintendent of Lawrence Township Schools, facilitated the program which focused on inquiry-based science, school district support and sustainability.

  • Over 50 administrators and school board members from Ewing, Lawrence, West Windsor-Plainsboro, Princeton, Hopewell and Washington Township attended an evening workshop hosted by Bristol-Myers Squibb titled, "School Boards + Science = Success." A workshop module entitled Benchmarks, National Standards, and the New Jersey State Core Standards was developed for the workshop by two E=MC2 lead teachers from West Windsor-Plainsboro.

  • Both internal and external communication are important. During the past year we have created our own E=MC2 newsletter the Sci-Gram with over 2,000 copies distributed to teachers, administrators, school board members and other grant partners.

  • New Jersey Network continues to chronicle the progress of E=MC2.

  • WOR TV Fox-Channel, will feature E=MC2 on Classroom Close-Up, NJ on December 19, 1998 & February 6, 1999 sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association ( NJEA).

  • E=MC2 was the subject of a featured article in the NJEA Review Magazine, which reaches over 130,000 people.

  • A donation from The American Chemical Council allowed E=MC2 to create a web-site. One of the web-site’s main benefits is to permit teachers and students to e-mail area scientists who have adopted kits. Scientists will answer questions and help solve problems.

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab has provided funding, facilities and staff resources to help keep the lines of communication open between superintendents, school boards, administrators, lead teachers, building coordinators, mentors and teachers.

Because our program has been well received at the K-6 level, the Lawrence Middle School has adopted an NSF supported program called Prime Science.

We have learned to form partnerships to achieve our goals.