School Teachers to Train in Energy Labs
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The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DoE) have joined forces in an unprecedented program to make accessible DoE's extensive complex of 15 national labs and science facilities to train K-12 math and science teachers.
The teachers will be drawn from school systems participating in educational systemic reform programs already funded by NSF. Each DoE facility will make available its significant resources and expertise from basic research, applied science, technology development, and facility design and construction.
According to Luther S. Williams, head of NSF's education directorate, the effort to provide an infrastructure and curricula for teacher training, which keeps pace with the ever-advancing sciences and technological disciplines, has up to this point primarily involved partners in higher education.
"Such teacher development all too often has taken place almost exclusively in traditional university classroom lecture settings," says Williams. "What is needed is a significant commitment to innovative approaches to educating our educators in fields that have long outpaced our schools' professional development resources."
"This agreement gives teachers from across the nation access to science and technology training facilities that they could only have dreamed about until now," said Midge Cozzens, NSF's director of elementary, secondary and informal education.
A prevailing sentiment among teacher organizations, teachers and school administrators is that the infrastructure for advanced teacher training in technology and science has fallen seriously behind what is required to meet the needs of students in an increasingly technical and highly competitive global economy. This program is designed to change this situation.
Teachers in NSF's rural, statewide, urban and comprehensive systemic reform initiatives would be eligible to participate in professional development, curricula and programs that will be established at DoE labs.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Federico Peña said of the collaboration, "This inter-agency partnership will serve as a model to our nation's education community, demonstrating that by leveraging our resources and capabilities we can provide the hands-on experience and scientific knowledge necessary for our teachers to meet the challenges of the 21st century in science and technology. Especially in the areas of computer technology, our labs, in partnership with NSF, will help make science 'come alive' and develop teachers' skills in integrating the tools of computer simulation and modeling with science and math standards."
At the start of this DoE/NSF teacher-development initiative, NSF will help identify cities, states and rural-area participating school systems that could most benefit by this innovative teacher enhancement program. Geography will play a role in decision-making regarding the identification of the initial set of labs that will inaugurate this unique teacher education program. Just as important, according to DoE officials, is the ability of the labs to serve under-served schools that show promise for benefiting from the teacher enhancement aspects of this program.
"The opportunity to bring teachers into DoE labs equipped with many state-of-the-art facilities and instrumentation, could never have been provided by a single agent," said Williams. "With NSF and DoE collaborating on this momentous challenge, we can bring an exciting new dimension to teacher training."
Ultimately, the 15 DoE labs will each allocate resources necessary to make a significant difference in curriculum development and teacher training activities. NSF will solicit teacher participation through its ongoing systemic initiatives. Participating national labs include: Ames (IA), Argonne (IL), Lawrence Berkeley (CA), Brookhaven (NY), Fermi (IL), Lawrence Livermore (CA), Los Alamos (NM), National Renewable Energy Lab (CO), Oak Ridge (TN), Pacific Northwest (WA), Sandia (NM), Sandia-Livermore (CA), Savannah Technology Center (SC), Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (CA), and Thomas Jefferson (VA).
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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