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July 26, 2012

Local science teachers are “outstanding” in the field at ULM

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is currently hosting thirty middle school teachers from 18 schools in the Monroe City, Caldwell, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and Union Parish school systems for Out Standing in the Field: Phase II.

Thanks to a $120,000 grant secured by ULM faculty, and funded by Louisiana Systemic Initiatives Program (LaSIP), the second phase of the initiative seeks to make middle school science teachers 'outstanding,' by providing opportunities for them, and eventually their students, by having them collect real data at local research sites.

This year’s project focus is weather.

Teachers spent the week visiting state-of-the-art weather stations at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Restoration Park.

They then built replica weather stations to install at their own school sites.

“Weather variables are cross-cutting concepts that relate to both physical and life sciences,” said Dr. Anne Case Hanks, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at ULM.

“By focusing on something that everyone experiences daily, students see the connections between the sciences, math, literacy and their local environment.”

Joyce Allen, from Delhi Middle School said, “The most exciting thing for my students will be being able to say, that they are networking with ULM, something that most middle school students can’t say.”

When teachers return to the classroom this fall, their students will collect weekly, and in some cases daily, data to be part of a larger regional database housed at the ULM. 

“My classroom will become the ‘incubator’ for the scientific process using the real-world data that my students collect,” said Shirley McClain from Delhi Middle School.

Dr. Lynn Clark, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and director of DREAM at ULM, collaborated with colleagues Dr. Ava Pugh, also a professor in curriculum and instruction; Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee, an assistant professor in biology; and Dr. Anne Case-Hanks, assistant professor in atmospheric sciences, to develop and deliver the grant.

Joyce Tate, science coordinator of Monroe City Schools, also partnered on the grant to link activities back to the classroom.

LaSIP, which started in 1992, is designed primarily to enhance teacher quality and increase student performance through professional development for in-service teachers.

A combination of funds from the Board of Regents, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and all Title II, Part A, No Child Left Behind funds help finance LaSIP’s efforts.

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