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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

author: H. A. Cook, Libby Strong
submitter: WV-Handle on Science
published: 01/14/1999
posted to site: 01/14/1999

PI Annual Progress Report
WV-Handle On Science Project

(Covers Period July 1997 - September 30, 1998)
(award date June 1, 1998)

Dr. H. Andrew Cook
Principal Investigator
Dean of Sciences, West Liberty State College


Elizabeth A. Strong
Co-Principal Investigator, Project Director
Program Coordinator, WLSC SMART-Center

The WV-Handle On Science Project is funded in part by the National Science Foundation

Part I -Annual Overview

Project Description

The WV-Handle On Science Project is a collaboration of local school systems, informal science centers, colleges, and business and industry. This project offers a comprehensive, systemic five-year science education reform initiative for 48 schools in the five West Virginia Northern Panhandle counties (Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, and Wetzel). Funding for the project is through a $1.86 million NSF award along with various grants from business and industry including $100,000 from Bayer Corporation and $25,000 from PPG Industries. County school systems, local colleges, and informal science centers also contribute to the approximately $2.4 million in cost share. All of the approximately 625 K-6 teachers will receive 128 hours of professional development focusing on inquiry-based teaching strategies, content fortification, and alternative assessment. Exemplary curriculum materials including STC, FOSS, and INSIGHTS modules will be utilized and refurbished at West Liberty State College's SMART-Center where the Materials Resource Center is housed.

The long-term goal of the project is to raise the level of scientific literacy of elementary school children. To achieve this goal, the major project objectives are:

  • To provide K-6 elementary teachers with sustained professional development opportunities in content, pedagogy, and assessment so that science is taught in an inquiry-based, hands-on approach and integrated with mathematics and other subjects;

  • To create a Materials Resource Center at the West Liberty State College SMART-Center serving as a permanent hub of professional development opportunities for teachers and as a science-kit refurbishment center; and,

  • To implement in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia a new K-6 inquiry-based and hands-on science program, consistent with state and national standards.

In order to address the objectives, the following professional development components are:
- Summer Science Institutes;
- Follow-up sessions;
- Round table discussion groups; and
- Access to scientists during summer institutes and during the year.
The WV-Handle On Science Project will serve as a pilot program for K-6 science education reform for the entire state of West Virginia.

Major Accomplishments from July 1997 - September 1998

  • Sixteen Science and Technology for Children kits were piloted by second and fifth grade teachers in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, and Wetzel counties. The pilot teachers participated in a two-day workshop held at the SMART-Center where they received professional development focusing on the Weather (2nd) and Microworlds (5th) kits.

  • SciMEEC (Science and Mathematics Elementary Education Council) facilitated a Science Saturday for the employees of the Mining Safety and Health Administration and their families while garnering volunteer scientists for the WV-Handle On Science Project. An additional Science Saturday is planned with the employees of PPG Industries.

  • Fifteen Project Mentors (Workshop Leaders) attended a two day workshop (June 12 & 13, 1998) to prepare for the WV-Handle On Science Summer Institutes. One day of the workshop was led by MacGregor Kniseley of the KITES Project. These individuals were primarily affiliated with Project CATS and from the county systems.

  • The PEGASUS Project (funded through a Goals 2000 grant) provided four additional workshops for Ohio County elementary teachers from February-June 1998. These workshops followed the same model as the WV-Handle On Science Project and served as a pilot project focusing on the Magnetism and Electricity FOSS kit.

  • Fifteen college and industry scientists attended a Scientist Workshop at the SMART-Center led by Kevin Ayelsworth of the American Physical Society. These scientists were oriented to the project and signed up to serve as content monitors or participating scientists at the summer institutes.

  • Dr. Ted Spickler spoke to 25 employees at Bayer Corporation in New Martinsville about participating in the WV-Handle On Science Summer 1999 Institutes. A coordinator for the scientist volunteers is now in place at the plant site. Bayer Corporation involvement will be maximized by holding Summer Science Institutes in New Martinsville, WV next summer.

  • Two hundred and fourteen teachers participated in one of three 1998 WV-Handle On Science Summer Institutes July 20-23, August 3-6, or August 17-20, 1998. One hundred ninety-eight of these participants are classroom teachers in the county systems. Others were substitutes, private school teachers, and one principal.

  • Over $28,000.00 of science kits and supplies, to allow all kits to be truly classroom-ready, were purchased with the grants from PPG Industries, Bayer Corporation, Analytical Chemists Society, Spectroscopy Society, PCS, and Bell Atlantic.

  • An overview of the project has been presented to teachers who have not yet participated from Hancock and Marshall Counties, and to Ohio County principals. More presentations are planned.

  • A two hour WV-Handle On Science Project presentation at the 1998 West Virginia Science Teachers Association Convention at Snowshoe, WV drew other educators from throughout West Virginia interested in science education reform.

  • Lead teachers to serve as liaisons with the project are being chosen from each participating school. 36 of the 48 eligible K-6 schools in the five county area had representatives at the WV-Handle On Science Summer Institutes.

  • The WV-Handle On Science Project web page is now on-line and may be accessed at

  • Libby Strong will serve along with Dr. Andy Cook on the Project CATS advisory council, insuring alignment of these NSF projects with state and national standards.

  • The Materials Resource Center is currently "under construction" in the basement of the Warwood Center. This space has been donated by WLSC for the project. A one-half time Materials Manager has been hired by the five counties.

  • One hundred and twelve kits were delivered via county school van systems to Brooke, Hancock, Marshall and Wetzel counties on September 30, 1998. Ohio county teachers used the kit (currently in their schools) on which they were trained.

Lessons Learned

The following is a summary of the lessons learned to date:

  • Design of a specific framework for all professional development sessions at the Summer Institute is needed. Project Mentors, though adept at teaching hands-on science, did not in some cases make stages of the learning cycle and objectives for some activities explicit. This resulted in some participants not gaining the clear picture of inquiry-centered science the project desired. The constructivist approach and inquiry will be more uniformly stressed in follow-up activities and in other future workshops.

  • Project Mentors ideally possess a proper combination of workshop facilitation skills, science and pedagogy content knowledge, and familiarity with the kit highlighted in the grade-specific workshop they lead. Redesign of the Project Mentor training will pair seasoned workshop leaders with teachers who have used the kit until enough confidence and leadership skills are gained by the elementary teachers to lead workshops on their own.

  • Follow-up for all participants should occur after the kit is used. Next year's follow-up sessions will be scheduled accordingly.

  • Content Monitors for the project should become more familiar with the kits used so that specific content may be better linked to kit activities.

  • Schedules for summer workshops need to be in the target audience's hands by very early spring (fall if possible). For next year's Summer Science Institutes, dates have been sent to all participants and will be disseminated to all elementary teachers to assist in their pre-planning.