ELIZABETH — The Merck Institute for Science Education held its Academy for Leadership in Science Instruction in Princeton earlier this month. The three-year K-12 professional development program brings together teachers, principals and district administrators to create a community of science educators and leaders who will work to strengthen science instruction in their schools and districts for years to come.
“Science teachers are eager to make their subject more meaningful to students,” said Carlo Parravano, MISE’s executive director. “The Academy helps to make effective science instruction a reality by facilitating collaboration of educators to develop tools and techniques that will improve their practice and make science alive in the classroom.”
“The Academy gave me an amazing opportunity to learn as students do, through the scientific process,” said Tom Hernandez, 5th grade teacher at Dr. Orlando Edriera Academy School 26. “I gained better communication skills and teamwork ability and really focused on the elements of effective science instruction.”
Each year of the Academy focuses on a unique science theme as a vehicle to discuss student learning and guide teachers in their intellectual growth. First-year participants explored their vision of effective science education by experiencing investigations of air-pressure including a can crusher experiment. Second-year participants built models to explain eclipses and phases of the moon, using the theme of the Earth-Moon-Sun system to examine students’ evolving understanding of scientific concepts.
In 2008, the Academy’s inaugural cohort of 22 K-12 school teams included over 100 teachers and principals alongside six district teams of more than 20 administrators. The group reunited in Princeton from Aug. 3 -7. During the week of July 20, the Academy hosted its second cohort, a group of 100 plus first-time participants made up of 18 K-12 school teams and six district teams. Educators from Elizabeth participated in both sessions. Other participating school districts included Hillside, Linden, Rahway and Readington Township in New Jersey and North Penn in Pennsylvania.
Each intensive week-long session of the Academy was led by educators, scientists, and education researchers. The authors of “Ready, Set, Science!,” the award-winning publication of the National Research Council that is the Academy’s core text, also led sessions.
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