Partnership for Inquiry-based Science Program K-5
funded by the National Science Foundation Grant Number EIS-9554605
The Seattle Local Systemic Change Program is a partnership with the
University of Washington's Department of Molecular Biotechnology, the Fred
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and The Boeing Company to support the
implementation of an inquiry-based science program in all schools with
elementary students. The Leadership Team guides the program development and
is composed of representatives from each of the partner organizations,
administrators, the PTA Council president, and a member of the Alliance for
The Seattle School District is urban and multi-ethnic. To date there are 1010
grade-level classroom teachers and 23,566 students in 71 elementary schools.
Almost 50% of the student population are on free or reduced lunch. Community
activism and stewardship contribute to a very unusually supportive
relationship between the school system and the community. Former
Superintendent John Stanford capitalized on those characteristics and
strengthened the relationship.
Mr. Stanford lost his battle with leukemia the day after Thanksgiving 1998.
The whole city of Seattle stopped with teary eyes to pay tribute to this
powerful leader who had touched so many lives with hope and promise. We have
adopted a statement he made last fall as a slogan for our program - "Science
on My Mind".
As Mr. Stanford would have had it, Joseph Olchefske made a smooth transition
from Acting Superintendent to becoming Superintendent. Five months after
taking the position, Mr. Olchefske hired Dr. June Rimmer as Chief Academic
Officer, a position that had been vacant for two years.
Our Partnership for Inquiry-based Science commenced in the summer of 1996
with two pilot schools and seventeen new schools. Ten schools joined in the
second year, and ten more joined in the third year. In the summer of 1999,
seventeen schools came on board. This totals 56 schools. The following five
goals of this grant provide support for teachers to deliver effective science
instruction to elementary students:
- Summer and Fall Science Institutes on unit implementation, pedagogy and
content as well as classes throughout
the school year
- School-based professional development and support based on school or
individual teacher needs as they relate to
- Materials support, analysis, and refurbishment provided by a materials
supervisor, a volunteer scientist along with
other volunteers at the District Science Materials Center
- Scientist and University support focused on the Science Content Courses
- Other University support focused on family awareness and family
SUMMARY OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- In our fourth year of five, approximately 89% of the teachers from 79% of
the schools are participating in our project.
- We have conducted 3 principal workshops with a total of 49 principals
- Many of the schools have formed focus groups to forge a greater
school-based reform effort. Some schools
accomplish this through their Leadership Teams.
- Science Resource Teachers have utilized facilitative leadership skills to
assist schools with the development of
school-wide improvement plans.
- The Materials Center has an excellent record of delivering the kits on time
and is very "teacher friendly".
- Family and community science literacy experiences are provided through
funding from the University of
- Family Science Programs have been provided at the Woodland Park Zoo in May
1998 & 1999 for schools with a
high level of children living in poverty.
- Dr. Ben Sayler of the Department of Molecular Biotechnology continued
commendable efforts in developing and
refining Science Content Courses and as the contact person for scientists..
- The Physics Education Group of the Physics Department at the University of
Washington has contributed 2000
hours to date in the development of the Science Concept Courses and has
helped to recruit scientists for teaching
- Through the University of Washington's Physics Education Group, Dr. Lillian
McDermott continued to provide five
graduate credits of professional development with tuition waived for lead
and resource teachers.
- Dr. Ellen Wijsman from the Department of Biostatistics and Division of
Medical Genetics at the University of
Washington has developed a useful statistics and science course to explore
and clarify the uses of various
graphing styles in the context of the specific data analysis activities
designed for each kit.
- A Science Notebook class has been developed to help foster development of
written communication skills. It is
through the use of these skills that students can increase their
understanding of the science concepts they are
- The Lead Teacher Program has been further developed and more teachers have
- Lead and Science Resource Teachers participated in professional development
with Larry Lowery, the Susan
Loucks-Horsley Group, Mark St. John, Bruce Wellman, Bob Garmston, Jay
McTighe, and the UW Physics
- The Annual Retreat attracted more than fifty District and community members
to discuss issues and challenges of
- University of Washington's President, Dick McCormick, held a reception at
his home to celebrate the NSF-funded
mathematics and science projects in Seattle and five surrounding districts.
- For the third year, the Alliance for Education has coordinated business and
industry funding to provide unit-related
field trips for all children in the program.
- A collaboration with the Middle School Science Systemic Change Partnership
LSC is beginning to grow and provide
substantial support for our efforts.