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Title: How%20to%20Spread%20the%20Knowledge%20of%20Physics%20Beyond%20the%20Walls%20of%20the%20Classroom


1
How to Spread the Knowledge of Physics Beyond the
Walls of the Classroom
  • and still get tenure

2
Scientists in the K-12 Classroom Can We Make a
Difference?
Diandra Leslie-Pelecky Department of Physics
Astronomy Center for Materials Research
Analysis University of Nebraska
3
Acknowledgements
  • Gayle Buck (Dept. of Teaching, Learning and
    Teacher Education)
  • PF Co-PIs
  • Sue Kirby, Clinton Elementary
  • Roger Kirby, UNL Physics
  • Pat Dussault, UNL Chemistry
  • Barb Jacobson, Lincoln Public Schools
  • Pat Dixon (National High-Field Magnet Lab),
    Evaluator

4
Outline
  • Motivation
  • What am I doing here?
  • Why should you care?
  • Can scientists meaningfully participate in K-12
    education?
  • Project Fulcrum Case Study
  • Can pre-tenure scientists meaningfully
    participate in K-12 education?
  • Some suggestion to help you make a decision
  • Conclusions

5
Outreach
According to Webster
(n.) 1. The act of reaching out (n.) 2. The
extent of reach (n.) 3. The extending of
services beyond usual limits
6
Outreach
Academic Definition
Those things your colleagues know arent teaching
or research
7
Will Working on Education/Outreach Affect My
Research and Teaching?
Yes.
8
1 Negotiate!
When something is added, something else has to
give
  • Not just outreach Anything beyond standard
    expectations
  • Reduced teaching load? probably not good idea
  • Reduced service load? usually more feasible

9
Balancing Act
Tenure Decision
  • Negotiated trading part of my teaching
    responsibilities for education/outreach
    activities
  • Included in tenure contract
  • Managed to negotiate other perks in exchange

10
Why?
11
Public opinion is everything. With public
sentiment nothing can fail without it, nothing
can succeed.
Abraham Lincoln
12
A survey of 30,000 students found that had
the strongest influence in getting the students
interested in science.
the characters in the Star Trek television program
Other interest promoters were teachers, parents
and the TV program 'Beekman's World.'
Source USA Today 123(2591), 15 (1994)
13
Vocabulary of Science Constructs
The Earth goes around the sun once per year
The Earth goes around the sun once each year
The Earth travels around the sun
Light travels faster than sound
Humans did not live at the same time as the
dinosaurs
Light travels faster than sound
Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer
Antibiotics kills viruses as well as bacteria
Electrons are smaller than atoms
Electrons are smaller than atoms
Lasers do not work by focusing sound waves
The fathers gene determines whether the baby is
a boy or girl
20
40
60
80
Source 2002 Science and Engineering Indicators
14
Public Belief in Paranormal Phenomena
2001
Astrology or position of stars and planets can
affect peoples lives
1995
1990
People can hear from or communicate mentally with
someone who has died
Ghosts or spirits of dead people can come back in
certain places and situations
Houses can be haunted
Extrasensory perception
15
pseudoscience is a sort of background noise,
annoying, but rarely rising to a level that
seriously interferes with scientific discourse
16
The more serious threat is to the public, which
is not often in a position to judge which claims
are real and which are not. Those who are
fortunate enough to have chosen science as a
career have an obligation to help the public make
that distinction.
Robert L. Park, 2001
17
But I Dont Have Time for Altruism
  • The Case for Self-Interest

18
Bachelors Degrees in Physics
Source AIP
19
Bachelors Degrees in Physics
Source AIP
20
Ph.D.s in Physics
Source AIP
21
NSFs Role in Education Outreach
22
Motivation
  • NSF Integration of Research and Education

23
2 To CAREER or Not to CAREER?
Pros
Cons
  • Not competing against established scientists
  • Prestigious
  • 4-5 year grants carry you through tenure
  • Regular grants requiring education portion, too
  • Giving reviewers two targets
  • Weight of education/ outreach activities varies
    among programs
  • Have to do both if you get funded

24
NSF CAREER Award
Worked with teachers and students in a Title I
school
  • 97 of students eligible for free- or
    reduced-price lunch
  • 30 turnover rate
  • Kids came to school in the winter without coats
    or shoes
  • Teachers on first-name basis with probation
    officers, police

25
Teachers
  • Needed
  • Science equipment
  • More (and more current) science knowledge
  • More time for teaching/planning
  • Experience with the excitement of science
  • Had
  • Incredible dedication to kids
  • Desire to learn about science and science teaching

26
Motivation
  • NSF develops large education and outreach
    programs
  • Large research centers (MRSEC, NSEC, ERC) require
    education/outreach components

27
3 External Funding
Pros
Cons
  • Shirley Mills
  • PF Project Manager
  • Former elementary school teacher
  • Grad student in Higher-Education Adm.
  • Overhead
  • Resources for outreach
  • Infrastructure
  • Demonstrates ability to
  • Write grants
  • Organize large-scale projects
  • If its a really bad idea, probably wont get
    funded
  • Have to write the grant
  • Cant decide to just stop doing it
  • Reports
  • PI meetings
  • Everybody expects you to do it for them

28
3b Pace Yourself
  • One 1,000,000 grant
  • is better than
  • 10 100,000 grants

29
Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Schools
NSFs Primary Goal Produce scientific research
leaders who are aware of and sympathetic to the
challenges addressing K-12 education
30
NSFs GK-12 Program
  • Partnerships with schools
  • STEM graduate students learn new teaching methods
    and improve communication skills 
  • Increase teacher content knowledge
  • Increase teacher confidence
  • Increase the content knowledge of K-12 students
  • Provide professional role models with whom K-12
    students can relate.

31
GK-12 Models
  • U. Hawaiis Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
    Biology Grad Program
  • Cornells Environmental Inquiry Research
    Partnership
  • University of Washingtons Engineering Educators
  • NCSUs Math/Science Integration Project
  • Georgia States Science on a Bus
  • Harvard, BU (2), Tufts, U. Mass Boston

32
4 Treat Your Project Like Research
  • Define the problem and approach
  • Assemble Resources
  • People
  • Equipment
  • Infrastructure
  • Money
  • Take/analyze data
  • Re-do the experiment the right way
  • Publish
  • Ask for more money

33
Scientists as Role Models Are We Really Having
Any Impact??
Eisenhower Professional Development
Program National Science Foundation
34
Pilot Study
Graduate students work with 4th/5th graders at a
Title I school
  • Do student attitudes toward science change?
  • Does student content knowledge increase?
  • Do teachers change the way they teach science?

35
Experimental Setup
  • 8 weeks of Magnetism/Circuits
  • 80 fourth/fifth graders
  • Title I school
  • Large ELL population
  • 2 hours/week
  • 4 teachers
  • 3 science graduate students

36
Assessment Details
  • Pre-surveyed students about their attitudes
    toward science and scientists
  • Image of Science Scientist Scale (Krajkovich,
    1982)
  • Student Opinion Survey (McMillan, Simonetta,
    Singh, 1994)
  • Student Interviews
  • Teachers provided measures of the students prior
    and current performance in science
  • A selected sample of students was interviewed
    every two weeks

37
Psst.
You know, the kids dont believe youre
scientists
38
Addressing Role Models
  • Emphasize graduate students as scientists from
    the university
  • Have students talk about their research
  • Videotape
  • Lead graduate student
  • In her lab, explaining her research
  • Shown in week 4

39
Results
Students did not accept that their visitors were
scientists
  • 87 described the visitors as teachers
  • When asked whether the visitors were scientists,
    75 explicitly said NO

40
Results
The visitors didnt look like scientists
  • They were too pretty to be scientists. Only
    women who arent pretty enough to be in the
    movies would be scientists
  • Scientists would be wearing white coats with
    glasses, have grey hair and be old

41
Results
The visitors didnt act like scientists
  • They showed expressions
  • They let us do fun things
  • Real scientists talk about complicated things
  • They are trying to make things easier for us to
    understand

42
Results
The parents didnt get it either
  • When will the real scientists show up?
  • It was really nice of the scientists to let
    their wives do this

43
Conclusion
  • Students started with common stereotypes about
    scientists
  • The scientists in the classroom did not fit these
    stereotypes
  • Not only did the students not change their
    stereotypes, they rejected the visitors as
    scientists because they didnt fit the stereotypes

Buck, Leslie-Pelecky and Kirby, J. Elem. Sci.
Educ. 14(2), 1-10 (2002)
44
Public Stereotypes of Scientists
The scientist is a man who wears a white coat
and works in a laboratory. He is elderly or
middle aged and wears glasses. He may wear a
beard, may be unkempt He is surrounded by
equipment and spends his days doing experiments.
Mead and Mertraux, 1957
45
Breaking Stereotypes
  • Introduce scientists via videotape first to
    establish identity
  • Have scientists start by dressing like
    stereotypes, then gradually becoming themselves
  • Have scientists start by doing shows, and then
    have them move into working with students in a
    teaching mode.
  • Ensure that scientists are always referred to as
    scientists, not grad students or teachers

46
Psst.
You know, the kids dont believe youre
scientists
47
5 Make Your Time Count
  • Dabbling is a waste of time
  • Know whats been done
  • Collaborate Find people who compliment your
    experience and share your goals
  • You can do more harm than good

48
Project Fulcrum Year 3
Give me a long enough lever and a place to
stand and I can move the Earth
Archimedes
49
Project Fulcrum
  • Joint project between Arts Sciences, Teachers
    College, Lincoln Public Schools
  • 30 Resident Scientists/3 years in grades 3-8
  • Resident Scientists spend entire year as
    school-wide resources w/Lead Teacher
  • 8 h/wk student contact 2 h/wk planning, no more
    than 4 h/wk prep
  • Weekly group meetings for teachers, Resident
    Scientists
  • Stipends same as NSF Research Fellows
  • 27,500 2003-2004
  • 30,000 2004-2005

50
Project Fulcrum Goals
  • Provide grad students with realistic picture of
    K-12 education and their possible role in it
  • Increase student access to inquiry-driven
    experiences
  • Improve student and teacher attitudes toward
  • Science
  • Scientists
  • Help Fellows improve pedagogical, communication
    and teamwork skills
  • Assess the program
  • Strengthen partnerships

51
Access to Inquiry
Making Experiments Real
  • Error analysis
  • Reproducibility
  • Learning to ask the right questions
  • Comparing data with other groups
  • Graphing/Tables
  • Troubleshooting equipment

52
7th Graders Forces and Motion 1

2.2
2.0
1.8
1.6
1.4
Velocity (m/s)
1.2
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
10
20
30
40
50
Angle (Degrees)
53
7th Graders Forces Motion 2

2.5
2.0
1.5
a (m/s2)
1.0
0.5
0.0
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
F (N)
54
Access to Inquiry
Science Fair Projects
  • Evening session with parents kids
  • What makes a good experiment?
  • You dont have to know the answer before you
    start
  • Consultation hours throughout year
  • Direct kids to resources
  • Get kids over humps
  • Practice presentations

55
Access to Inquiry
In many K-5 classrooms, science was taught less
than one hour a week if at all
  • Now
  • Teachers teach more hours of science/week
  • Trend seems to be continuing
  • With teachers who dont have a scientist this
    year
  • At schools PF is no longer working with
  • Teachers report marked increase in student
    participation in extracurricular science-based
    activities

56
Resident Scientists
  • Expectations
  • All went in expecting to change the school
  • Reality of working in school quite different than
    they thought
  • All left happy with what they were able to
    accomplish
  • Respect
  • Increased respect for what teachers have to put
    up with (esp. discipline)
  • Increased appreciation for process vs. inquiry
    balance

57
Its About Them, Not You
20 engineering students volunteer to teach
elementary students
The reason why you fell down and why it was
harder for you to hold on with the backpack was
I paused momentarily to add more drama
gravity I sounded like Beakman. Gravity
pulls things down and gravity is what makes thins
feel heavy. Remember this word because youre
going to hear it every time I am here gravity,
I concluded proudly.
S.G. Hagerott Physics for First Graders, Phi
Delta Kappan, 78(9), pp 717-720
58
Its About Them, Not You
Reading Physics for First Graders was
disturbing in a familiar way, similar to what Im
sure I would have felt watching the author
plugging a speaker into a wall outlet
D. Hammer, Physics for First Graders?, Science
Education, 83 (6), 797 (1999)
59
Teachers
  • Teachers more confident in their understanding of
    science
  • Teachers feel more appreciated by parents,
    principals, administrators
  • Teachers feel more like professionals

It is great to be part of community that treats
science teaching as a profession in which we can
continue to mature and improve
60
Kick-Off Event
Carl Wieman and Lead Teacher Linda Splichal
(below).
Lawrence Krauss poses with several Project
Fulcrum members (above).
61
Students
  • Economically disadvantaged students
  • Initially showed less interest in science and
    less self-confidence
  • Differences were eliminated by mid-year
    maintained through end-of-year
  • At start of new school year, students asked if
    they would have a scientist in their classroom
    this year
  • More girls are participating in science fairs
  • Parents are more aware of students science-based
    activities.

62
Partnerships
  • PF as a framework for faculty who would like to
    (or must) include an education component in a
    proposal
  • We know what works
  • Contacts with Lincoln Public School District
  • Developed a cadre of teachers who want to work
    with scientists
  • Example All MRSEC participants are pledged to
    do 20 hours/yr outreach

63
But What About the Role Models???
64
Role Model Project
  • Dont allow scientist to work with students until
    after videotape is shown
  • Teacher does short unit on scientists what they
    do
  • Changed title from Fellow to Resident
    Scientist
  • Wear nametags Scientist
  • Role Model Project
  • Diverse faculty, grad students, industrial
    scientists
  • Relate to content matter
  • Scientists talk about why they are in science,
    etc.

65
Role Model Project Results
  • At midterm, majority of students believed their
    Fellow was a scientist
  • By end of year, majority was back to believing
    he/she was a student teacher
  • Definite gender dependence
  • Very Scientist-specific
  • In some cases, image of a scientist went down
  • Passive F scientists/strong M or F teachers
  • Different results for girls/boys

66
Scientists as Role Models
How do graduate students negotiate being role
models as they are becoming scientists? Track
male and female scientists throughout the year to
see how their image of themselves and their image
of themselves as role models changes.
67
Can Scientists Make a Difference in K-12
Education?
  • Yes.

68
From a Teacher
  • Thank you for caring enough about science and
    children to invest like you have this
    opportunity has given me the chance to
    self-examine/mindfully improve my quality of
    teaching on a daily/weekly basis. It feels like
    I'm in 'seminar' every week - and what a great
    way to keep fresh and keep learning.

69
Should Scientists Try to Make a Difference in
K-12 Education?
70
Should Pre-Tenure Scientists Try to Make a
Difference in K-12 Education?
71
To Outreach or Not To Outreach?
72
Outreach and Tenure
The further you stray from the traditional
assistant professor profile The more nervous
youll be in the years prior to tenure
73
Doing Both
Pros
Cons
  • More invited talks
  • More papers
  • More
  • More visibility
  • More invitations to review grants
  • More refereeing of papers and grants
  • More travel to give talks
  • More papers to write
  • Real need to efficiently divide your time

74
Balancing
  • Decide how much time youre going to devote to
    your outreach (teaching, family, etc.) and STICK
    TO IT.

75
Getting Your Feet Wet
  • Start small
  • Work on someone elses project
  • Make sure that you like working with teachers,
    students, etc.
  • Local resources
  • University office for recruiting
  • Minority affairs
  • College of Education

76
To Outreach or Not To Outreach?
77
Risk Assessment
  • Ask dept. chair if these efforts will be valued
    in a tangible way
  • Will it count toward tenure?
  • Does your idea dovetail into existing
    departmental programs?
  • Can your idea provide visibility to help the
    department?

You can always start AFTER tenure
78
Institutional Support
UNL pre 02 Research Teaching Service
UNL post 02 Research Teaching Service Administrat
ion Outreach
79
Institutional Support
  • Use existing institutional structures
  • Secretarial
  • Organizational
  • Logistical
  • Managerial

Invest your time in things that really require
your skills.
80
To Outreach or Not To Outreach?
81
Conclusions
Outreach
  • Do things you feel passionate about
  • Listen to the needs of the people you want to
    help
  • Investigate what has already been done and
    whether it worked
  • Involve specialists
  • Infrastructure!
  • Stay optimistic

82
Is it a Waste of Time?
If you do it, you may not make an impact.
If you dont do it, you definitely wont make an
impact
-Tom Weber
83
Project Fulcrum www.physics.unl.edu/fulcrum
  • fulcrum2_at_unl.edu
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