During an extended lunch, teachers explored Pierce's Park and field-tested an environmental engineering activity developed by the Bioscience Education and Outreach staff. Following lunch, teachers engaged in an inquiry-based lesson on the Inquiry Continuum. A primary outcome of the BEST Project is for STEM teachers to increase the level of inquiry- and problem-based learning in their classrooms. At the end of the meeting, teachers were given time to work in small content-area groups to analyze a favorite lesson and discuss strategies for "upping the inquiry" within these activities.
Upcoming 2013-2014 BEST Project events include our Research Symposium on September 28, 2013 and our first school year Learning Community meeting on October 12, 2013.
The 2012-2013 Cohort concluded on April 30. Teachers successfully completing all components of the program, including full participation in all Learning Community meetings, online discussion forums, and the completion of required Outreach activities (BEST Project Speaking Event, Collaborative Event and CIP (see below)) were awarded 5 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits. In order to apply for recertification for the Maryland State Department of Education teaching certificate, teachers must earn 6 CPDs every 5 years.
As a culminating project, each BEST teacher has designed a curriculum module that translates aspects of their summer research experiences and knowledge gained from their school-year Learning Community meetings into engaging, real-world STEM lesson for their students. Completed Curriculum Implementation Projects (CIPs) for the 2012-2013 Cohort will be available on the BEST Project website by mid-July.
In addition to receiving high quality professional development that has positive impacts on STEM teaching and learning, BEST provided outreach to its 2012-2013 teachers and students by funding:
Furthermore, a special thanks to Dr. Don Thomas for his presentations at several 2012-2013 BEST Project schools which reached approximately 2900 middle and high school students.
Through a two-tiered application process, fifteen teachers representing eight Maryland public school districts were selected for the 2013-2014 BEST Project Cohort. Demographics for the 2013-2014 Cohort include:
A list of the 2013-2014 teachers and their summer research placements is available on the BEST Project website. http://www.towson.edu/cse/best/2013-2014_cohort/. Dr. Barry Margulies and Dr. Vonnie Shields will represent FCSM as BEST Project Research mentors this summer. Each teacher will complete a 6-week summer RET, participating in a project that is relevant to the teacher's instructional context and that supports their PI's research agenda. During the 2013-2014 school year, teachers will use their summer research experiences as the foundation for authentic, inquiry-based, engaging classroom STEM lessons.
The third BEST Project Cohort commenced with an Orientation Meeting on Saturday, May 18th. Teachers participated in several "icebreaker" activities and reviewed program outcomes and expectations. Through engagement in an authentic research experience and explicit instruction during the 2013-2014 school year, the BEST Project aims to increase the level of inquiry and problem-solving in the classrooms of its teachers. A Placemat activity elicited the teachers' prior knowledge of "inquiry" and why problem-solving experiences are important for students. A hands-on-minds-on Wind Powered Vehicle challenge modeled inquiry-based instruction for the BEST teachers and asked them to reflect on how this type of activity has application to their classroom.
On July 10, teachers will convene at the TU Center for STEM Excellence for a mid-internship Learning Community Meeting to discuss research project progress as well as 2013-2014 school year expectations.
On Saturday, March 9, 2013,the 2012-2013 BEST Project Cohort had its final Professional Learning Community (PLC). Teachers explored the scientific and mathematical practices of constructing explanations and arguments based on evidence and engaged in an inquiry-based lesson on planning a scientific investigation. Program exit surveys were administered and the meeting concluded with a biomedical engineering design challenge called “Protect that Pill.” 2012-2013 Classroom Implementation Projects will be available on the BEST Project website by the end of June.
Classroom observations for the 2013-2014 BEST Project applicants were completed. The Tier II applicants include middle and high school STEM teachers representing eight different Maryland school systems. Each applicant also submitted an essay identifying their top three summer internship choices from a directory of potential research sites/projects. Final cohort and internship placement decisions will be made in late April.
Thank you to the following FCSM faculty members who submitted project descriptions for the 2013 BEST Project Research Internship Directory: Barry Margulies, Vonnie Shields, and Cindy Zeller.Outreach
In the months of February and March, BEST Project funding supported two classroom visits to the TU Center for STEM Excellence (TUCSE) SciTech Learning Lab providing hands-on biotechnology experiences for 54 high school science students. We also supported a “day in the life of a TU Physics student” campus field trip for 27 Cecil County HS students. Special thanks to 2012 BEST Project mentor Grace Yong (PAGS), PAGS Administrative Assistant Reneé Watkins, PAGS Resource Teacher Jim Selway, and the Society of Physics Students for their contributions to this event. Dr. Don Thomas continues to provide outreach to BEST Project schools and students. In March, Don gave presentations on living and working in space for 600 Severna Park Middle School students (BEST Project teacher Debbie Sparby).
On March 23rd, TUCSE hosted its second annual Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr.FLL) Expo. Thirty-two elementary school students representing seven Jr.FLL teams displayed their “Super Seniors” Lego projects and Show Me! posters for our panel of reviewers (TUCSE staff members Dr. Mary Stapleton, Alicia Shaw, and Erica Svendsen, former Noyce Scholars Program Coordinator Tissa Thomas, and recently graduated Noyce Scholar Adam Rubin). SciTech Instructor Natalie Dussourd and Laboratory Assistants Henry Jackson and Debbie Phillips coordinated an exploration of various microscopic organisms living in the Chesapeake Bay.
On Saturday, November 17, 2012, at another Learning Community session, two of the BEST Project mentors – Dr. Bronwen Martin and Dr. Stuart Maudsley of the National Institute on Aging – gave a talk on how their research work aligns with the eight Next Generation Scientific and Engineering Practices. Teachers then spent the afternoon investigating several activities that modeled integrated STEM instruction including building and testing devices that measure lung capacity and designing straw rockets and testing predictions about their flight patterns.
On Saturday, October 13, 2012, the 2012–2013 Cohort teachers met for a Learning Community session. These sessions provide time for BEST Teachers to share feedback on their Curriculum Implementation Projects and explore various pedagogical topics. During this specific session, the teachers learned about several formative assessment strategies including the applications of Poll Everywhere technology, as presented by James Beam, 2011 BEST Project alumnus. A pumpkin-themed open inquiry lesson was then modeled for the teachers.