Seminar to Spotlight Student-Scientist Collaboration
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From upstate New York and Massachusetts Bay to Puget Sound and the Pacific shoreline, thousands of grade-school students are collecting data on Monarch butterfly migrations, songbird populations, astronomy, and environmental science. Professional researchers will use this data to advance scientific knowledge.
In several projects supported by the National Science Foundation, these elementary, middle, and high-school students are learning basic scientific concepts and investigative skills and collaborating with researchers and other students around the globe over the Internet, just as working scientists do.
Scientists, high-school and graduate students, and educators from around the country will discuss the possibilities and problems of this new movement to infuse "authentic research" into the K-12 science curriculum during a daylong forum at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle on Sun., Feb. 16.
NSF Director Neal Lane has made the integration of research and education one of NSF's core strategies for improving U.S. scientific literacy.
In a keynote address delivered at the first national conference on student-scientist partnerships last fall in Washington D.C., Lane stressed that the exchange of knowledge between working scientists and K-12 teachers and students also helps NSF achieve one of its long-range goals; to improve science and math education for all students.
"Professional scientists and engineers have to be part of the process," he said. "This is the only way we can expect to produce the finest scientists and engineers for the 21st century, raise scientific and technological literacy for all Americans, and continue to lead all nations in scientific and technological progress."
M. Patricia Morse, a marine biologist and the NSF official who helped to organize the Seattle meeting, notes that "more than ever before, scientists in government, academia, and private industry want to be involved in K-12 education."
But scientists too often find academic advancement can be hampered, rather than advanced, through time spent on such ventures as student-scientist partnerships. A major goal of the Seattle conference is to develop strategies to change long-standing restrictions on academic advancement and to surmount other barriers to increasing interaction between scientists and students.
"The dialogue needed to address these challenges has just begun," Morse noted.
On Sunday morning, Maureen Munn, a researcher at the University of Washington, Taya Marquardt, a student at Seattle's Lakeside High School, and Barbara Schulz, a Lakeside teacher, will discuss partnerships in genetics and molecular biology in the context of the Human Genome Project. Two afternoon sessions will feature speakers from NSF, Cornell University, the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, and the University of California at Berkeley, among others, discussing several collaborative ventures in a variety of scientific fields.
The proceedings from the fall conference are being published by TERC, a Cambridge, MA-based curriculum developer which organized that meeting in conjunction with NSF and The Concord Consortium, of Concord, Mass. Copies of the proceedings will be available for discussion at the AAAS meeting.
-NSF-Editors: For more information about student-scientist partnerships, see the TERC site on the World Wide Web at: http://www.terc.edu
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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