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The Science and Mathematics Education Center is pleased to maintain this website as an archival repository of materials developed during our NSF funded GK-12 Fellows project.  While some "news" is dated, the lessons, Science Literature Database and faculty SCORE posters remain valuable tools for the science classroom. 

Program Results

Our GK-12 track 1 project has been successful in meeting stated goals; however, we made several significant changes after the first year that enhanced and broadened the project's impact on the Fellows, teachers and middle school students. Major outcomes are listed below by participating group and selected lessons learned and specific changes made are discussed below each.

Fellows' Outcomes :

  • recognition of the importance of their time management skills,
  • strengthening basic science content outside their concentration,
  • improvement in their understanding of how to relate their research to K-12 education,
  • awareness of the burdens today's K-12 teachers shoulder,
  • recognition of how K-12 students benefit from their presence in the classroom,
  • realization of the differences in facilities, teachers, students, resources and financial support among schools.

Because of scheduling issues only second and third graduate students were recruited after the first year of the project. We learned that instead of keeping a Fellow in one school for a year, it was better to move Fellows mid-year among schools so they could gain knowledge of the differences in school resources. Moving Fellows has allowed us to more effectively utilize them as male and female role models for students. The Field Supervisor has observed improved communication and teaching skills, greater confidence, better presentations and time management skills of the Fellows. Faculty advisors corroborated these findings. One of the most significant outcomes of 1 st year Fellows has been their participation in or plans to volunteer in K-12 education.

Teachers' Outcomes:

  • motivation to try new science activities and more hands-on, inquiry based lessons,
  • elevated confidence in teaching science content,
  • recognition of how much their students benefit from exposure to science

Teachers have benefited from the partnering with a variety of science graduate students. Some have had their careers reinvigorated and jump-started. Teachers are more aware of the professional development opportunities available to them through SMEC, university science faculty members who are resources for their classes, and other community contacts associated with the GK-12 project. Because of the increased demands on teachers resulting from high-stakes, end of grade tests, No Child Left Behind legislation, and the school system's emphasis on mathematics and reading, we altered our original concept of emphasizing science by adding mathematics and reading components. Teachers are now provided with integrative science activities that address all of the goals of the N. C. Standard Course of Study (NCSCS) for the appropriate grade.

Middle School Student Outcomes:

  • more realistic understandings of who scientists are and what they do,
  • recognition of their own reliance on science in everyday life,
  • realization that science is something that is active and not just something in
  • exposure to professional scientists who share personal experiences helping to break down barriers,
  • understanding that not all scientists started as good students, many struggled academically, but they were willing to work hard to achieve success.

Impacts on the middle school students are more difficult to document. Anecdotal data indicates that many students are now more interested in science. Administration and analysis of over 700 Draw a Scientist Tests (DAST) given before and after a Fellow has served a classroom indicates perceptions of who a scientist is have changed. Many students no longer draw the stereotypical white male with glasses in a lab coat, but now draw black and white, males and females in a variety of settings. Surprisingly, many now draw their Fellows or themselves!

Partnership Outcomes:

The current GK-12 project administered through SMEC has allowed university science departments to develop and establish relationships with the New Hanover County School system at a level that previously did not exist. Teachers now have university science faculty members as resources who are willing to visit classrooms, share expertise through guest lectures, and permit visits to their research laboratories, something not available a few years ago. These partnerships have enhanced the ability of the university and the local schools to work together as a learning community. One middle school principal commented that he was pleased to have connections into the university's science departments, in addition to the School of Education.