Fifty elementary school science teachers from across Western North Carolina have been undergoing special training to help them learn how to teach their students to “do science” in the classroom, instead of just reading about it.
The teachers, representing grades three through five, attended a Science Institute developed by the North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network, and implemented through its Center for Mathematics and Science Education at Western Carolina University.
The institute focuses on four of the major themes that are included in the N.C. Standard Course of Study for Science in grades three through five. Participating teachers attend for one week this summer, and then will undergo four more days of training during the upcoming school year, said Elaine Franklin, center director.
Nineteen teachers attended a session on the WCU campus July 24-28. The second session, with 31 teachers attending, was held July 31-Aug. 4 at the Western Region Education Service Alliance office, located on the Enka campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
“The institute is important because we are starting to give end-of-grade science tests in fifth and eighth grades, and in some cases, maybe most, elementary schools haven’t been teaching a lot of science,” Franklin said.
Two modules were taught during the summer sessions – energy, forces and motion; and ecology. During the school year the teachers will learn about weather and climate, and rock cycles.
The Center for Mathematics and Science Education at WCU is one of 11 centers in the state that make up the network. The center at WCU works with other university offices to provide high-quality professional development for teachers in the region.
Teachers participated from these school systems: Asheville City, Buncombe County, Cherokee County, Clay County, Gaston County, Henderson County, Jackson County, Macon County, McDowell County, Polk County, Transylvania County and Yancey County.