A Working Conference --- November 6-7,
Resources for Involving Scientists in
Center for Science, Mathematics, and
Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center
National Academies of Science &
100 Academy Drive
Irvine, CA. 92612-3002
Tel: (714) 721-2200
Wednesday, November 6
7:00 - 8:30 ----- Breakfast
8:30 - 8:50 ----- Goals of the meeting
8:50 - 10:00 --- Introductions
Directions for first working session
10:00 - 10:15 --- Break
Goal 1: Identify an array of roles to be played by
scientists and engineers in support of Standards-based
K-12 science education.
10:15 - 11:15 --- Small groups develop descriptions
and identify resources for various roles in four areas:
- Working directly with students
- Working with teachers
- Developing instructional materials
- Supporting systemic programs
11:15 - 12:30 --- Plenary Session
Distribute information on tomorrow's Issues
12:30 - 1:30 --- Lunch
Goal 2: Describe for a general audience various
levels of involvement in education for scientists and
engineers--ranging from intermittent individual actions
to highly-structured systemic reform.
1:30 - 1:50 --- Overview of development of the levels
Directions for second working session
1:50 - 3:00 --- Small groups develop descriptions of
levels of organization and of requirements for growth.
The levels are:
- Becoming informed to taking individual action
- Forming a group and coordinating with educators
- Establishing a program structure
- Networking among organizations--toward systemic
coordination of resources
3:00 - 3:15 --- Break
3:15 - 5:00 --- Plenary session
Thursday, November 7
7: 00 - 8:30--- Breakfast
8:30 - 8:50 --- Review of today's agenda
Goal 3: Take advantage of the cumulative experience
of those convened to examine cross-cutting issues about
partnerships in K-12 science education. See below.
8:50 - 10:30------ Issue discussion #1
10:30 - 10:45---- Break
10: 45 - 12:00--- Issue discussion #2
12:00 - 1:00 ----- Lunch
Goal 4: Collect advice and information from
participants about the use of the Internet to disseminate
information related to this conference.
1:00 - 2:30 --- Discussions: Why and How to
2:30 - 3:00 --- Wrap Up
Presented to the Conference Participants
1. Integration or Alignment with School Programs
In some projects, the scientist involvements are an
official, integral, and even essential part of the
educational program of a school or district. In some
projects, the involvement is for most purposes
independent of the school or district programs. In most
projects, the scientist involvements lie somewhere in
between. This leads to the following questions (and
- How can one characterize the degrees of scientist
integration in educational programs?
- How important (or unimportant) is it that the
integration be high?
- What are the advantages of a high degree
- What are the disadvantages?
- How does a project achieve high integration?
- What are the major obstacles?
- What are some key suggestions?
- What are some paths for moving from low
to high integration?
- Where the integration is less than high, how
aligned are the activities of the project with
the goals of the district?
- How to assess the degree of alignment?
- How important is it that the alignment be
- How promote a higher degree of alignment?
2. Bridging the Gap Between the Two Cultures
Teachers have a lot to learn from scientists; and
scientists, if they are to be really helpful, have a lot
to learn from teachers. But teachers and scientists come
from two widely divergent cultures.
The divergence can inhibit the initiation of contacts
between teachers and scientists. Teachers often have poor
communications media available to them and are often
intimidated by scientists, so that teacher-initiated
contacts are rare. And scientists, who live in a
different world in which science education is a very
minor concern, are unlikely to have initiating ideas or
other motivations to break into the world of teachers.
This situation also inhibits on-going communication,
both psychologically and technologically, and that can
undermine long-term relationships.
- Are frequent interactions between teachers and
scientists really necessary?
- If yes, what kinds? Why necessary?
- If no, why not? Would more frequent
interactions be helpful? What kind? How?
- Is teacher-scientist bonding essential to help
bridge the gap (or surmount the barrier?) between
- If so, when and how is bonding promoted?
At what stages of a project? In what
- And how is it sustained and even
- If such bonding is not essential, what are other
ways to promote and enhance interactions?
3. Maximizing Leverage of Individual Scientists
Some projects give each participating scientist the
opportunity for the widest (if not deepest) impact.
Others are designed to promote a very deep (if not wide)
impact. The ideal projects, those with the maximum
"leverage", should presumably lead to an impact
that is both wide and deep.
- In what kinds of projects is breadth the virtue
and shallowness the vice? Is this inherent, or
can something be done to deepen the impact? What?
- In what kinds of projects is depth the virtue and
narrowness the vice?
- Is this inherent, or can something be done to
broaden the impact? What?
- How important should leverage be in considering
the merits of a project?
Note: The leverage of individual participating
scientists shouldn't be confused with the leverage of the
scientists leading projects for which increasing the
leverage may mean enlarging the scale.
4. Scaling Up amd Disseminating Projects
For some projects, the scale may be inherent in the
project, but for others increasing the scale is a major
challenge once the project has proved successful on a
- What are the major considerations in deciding
whether to try to scale up a project? What
conditions in a project and in the environment
must be met before trying to scale up?
- What are the major obstacles in trying to scale
- What are the particular challenges to scaling up
posed in the following areas:
- Support resources
- Geographical extendedness
- Are there kinds of projects for which the scale seems inherent?
Any examples of these that can also be (or have
been) scaled up?
- What are the best dissemination modes to pursue,
apart from scaling up?
5. Recruiting & Training of Scientists
Scientists know a lot about science but very little
about education (even undergraduate education), children,
science education, or the science education culture in
general. They need training, although just how much and
what kind depends on the project in which they'll be
- What kinds of training are needed? How much?
Training details? Special materials? Interaction
with teachers during training?
- What are the results? How do you know?
- What are some general principles to follow?
Things to avoid?
6. Assessing and Improving Projects
To scientists, the measures of success of a project
are usually the discoveries, publications, patents,
grants, invitations, and prizes that arise from the work.
To science educators, the objective measures of success
are far less clear, so evaluatory studies (program
assessments) have to be undertaken by outside assessment
- How valid (and useful) can program assessments be
in determining the total worth of a project? In
assessing the contributions of scientists?
- How can good assessments be used to further a
project? In improving its structure? In
recruitment? In fund-raising? In other ways?
- What steps should be taken to get a good
assessment? At what stage? At what cost? What are
the pitfalls to be encountered and the
precautions to be taken?
- Science education projects derive their funding
from a wide variety of sources, and their
continuations and expansions from an even wider
variety. Some are generic; some are specific to
the particular kind of project. Some are national
or regional; some are distinctly local. All have
their own distinct agenda.
- Are there any general principles regarding
sources and methods that these projects should
follow in seeking initial funding? Continuing
- Is there any way to keep the efforts from being
competitive and interfering with the cooperation
among projects that is so often desirable?