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WV-Handle On Science Annual Overview

submitter: WV-Handle on Science
published: 12/09/1999
posted to site: 12/10/1999
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.

Some of the major activities of the WV-Handle On Science Project for the project year 1998- 1999 include the following:

  • Follow-up sessions for all five counties participating teachers in Fall 1998 reached over 170 participants
  • Updates were given to four of the five counties' principals
  • 50+ students from West Liberty State College were given information about the project and participated in sample Microworlds kit activities. Students were invited to participate in the WV-Handle On Science Summer Institutes.
  • WV-Handle On Science Resource Teacher assists various teachers throughout the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia in a range of science activities
  • Several PTA presentations are made to area schools
  • Visit to ASSET, Inc. assists Materials Manager and other staff in design of new Materials Resource Center
  • Materials Resource Center functioning to refurbish all five counties' science kits
  • Roundtable discussion group sessions begin in January 1999 and serve 55 teachers
  • West Liberty State College SpeakEasy gives opportunity to share about the project to 40+ persons
  • Project CATS/AEL advisory board meeting brings update on project statewide
  • West Virginia Higher Education Symposium allows further opportunity to showcase project and its accomplishments
  • 94 additional science kits are sent from Materials Resource Center to county schools during 1998- 1999 school year in addition to the 112 sent in September 1998
  • Faculty Senate presentations are made during Spring 1999 to schools with low levels of participation in project
  • Monthly administrative committee meetings for WV-Handle On Science Project allow regular discussion regarding project direction and goals
  • Presentation at NSTA convention shares project design for content enhancement for teachers in the summer workshops with over 70 participants
  • RESA-6 board presentation to county superintendents and board of education members updates them on project accomplishments
  • PTA Open House at WLSC SMART-Center is attended by area school PTA representatives and hosted by project teachers
  • Seventeen teachers participate in piloting "new" WV-Handle On Science Project kit titles prior to the Project Mentor training
  • Ohio County Language Arts Share Fair showcases project to fifty teachers
  • Project CATS spring meeting provides consultation and cross-project opportunities
  • Scientist workshop at Bayer Corporation led by Dr. Ted Spickler
  • Pilot teacher feedback meeting provides information for Project Mentor training and for summer institutes
  • Project Mentor training involves thirty teachers to lead summer science institutes grade level sessions
  • Scientist training works with five new content monitors
  • Seven different summer sessions involve over three hundred and fifty educators
  • 177 science kits are utilized first rotation in Fall 1999
  • 35 Bethany College students participate in a five-week WV-Handle On Science evening mini-course utilizing Solids and Liquids and Microworlds kits
  • 60+ teachers attend the September 1999 roundtable discussions
  • 41 elementary principals attend the Administrators Academy for Science Excellence on September 23, 1999

Related Projects/Activities:

  • Two Eisenhower Professional Development Higher Education Grants, SCALE (Science Content Area Learning for Educators) and READ SCIENCE (Reading Education Applications Developing Science Content Integration Enhancing National Curriculum Excellence) involved ninety-two project teachers.

  • Headstart teacher workshops were held in spring 1999 to acquaint teachers with science activities appropriate for pre-school age children.
  • STARLAB inflatable planetarium leased to ten schools.
  • Science Minutes project awarded funds through West Virginia Space Grant Consortium for the production of six sixty second spots highlighting at home science activities on West Virginia Public Television (extension of first through sixth grade kits utilized in the WV-Handle On Science Project).