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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- The WV-Handle On Science Project web page is now on-line and may be
accessed at www.smartcenter.org.
- 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.
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
- 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.